The OhioHealth Genetic Counseling Program
When several members of the same family have had the same or related cancers, there is a greater likelihood that the risk for cancer is hereditary. The only way to know for sure is through a cancer risk assessment.
The OhioHealth Genetic Counseling Program is your source for a comprehensive and informative hereditary cancer risk assessment. We provide the expertise and caring support to help identify if the cancer in your family is hereditary and to help you and your physician make choices for your best ongoing care.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (614) 566-GENE (4363).
About Hereditary Cancer
What is Hereditary Cancer?
Hereditary cancer results from changes in the genetic information (our genes) that is passed from parents to their children.
- Individuals with an inherited gene mutation have an increased risk of developing cancer.
- 5-10% of all cancers are hereditary (or 1 in 10 cancers).
- However, a family history of cancer does not always mean that there is a hereditary risk for cancer in the family.
How Do I Know if I am at Risk for Hereditary Cancer?
You might be at risk for hereditary cancer if you or your family has a history of:
- Cancer diagnosed under the age of 50 years
- More than one cancer in the same person
- Two or more relatives with the same type of cancer on the same side of the family
- Male breast cancer
- Rare cancers
- Ashkenazi Jewish (Eastern European) ancestry
- Clustering of cancer in a family (i.e. breast and ovarian or colorectal and uterine)
What to Expect
How do I Prepare for My Appointment?
Collect information about family members who have had cancer. Include both sides of the family and several generations. Information to collect should include:
- Type of cancer
- Age at diagnosis
- Make copies of any medical reports that you have
- Think about how you might feel talking about cancer or your risk for cancer
- Consider bringing a support person to your appointment
What will happen at my Appointment?
You will meet with a genetic counselor. This appointment includes a detailed discussion of:
- The likelihood that the cancers in a family are hereditary
- The risks, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing
- Available screening and risk reduction options
If you proceed with genetic testing, we will assist with the lab work and processing.
You may choose to receive your genetic results by telephone or schedule a results appointment. A follow-up genetic counseling appointment may be recommended for some individuals (i.e. positive genetic test result, additional testing recommended, etc.).
After Your Appointment
Following your appointment, you and your referring physician will receive a detailed letter that summarizes the information discussed. At your request, we will send a copy of this letter to other physicians or family members. We can also help you write your own letter to family members to inform them of your results and any steps they should take.
Will my Insurance cover Genetic Counseling and Testing?
- Most insurance providers cover genetic testing 80-100% if medically indicated.
- Genetic counseling is also covered by most insurance providers. We encourage you to contact your insurance provider directly if you have questions about coverage for this appointment.
What if I Don’t Have Insurance?
As a not-for-profit charitable organization, OhioHealth provides a generous charity care policy and provides a cancer risk assessment regardless of a person’s ability to pay. If testing is recommended, additional programs are available for patients who don’t have insurance or coverage.
Can I lose my health insurance if I have a hereditary cancer syndrome?
There are state and federal laws in place to protect you. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is a federal law passed in 2008. GINA applies to group health insurance plans and self-insurance plans.
GINA states that genetic information CANNOT:
- be used to determine eligibility for health insurance or be used to raise your premium
- be considered a pre-existing condition
- be requested by your employer or be used to determine employment decisions (such as hiring, firing or promotions)
What about disability and life insurance?
There are no laws protecting these types of insurance. Life insurance companies could use genetic test results to determine rates. These companies do ask for your personal and family history information to determine your risk level. Some people consider obtaining life insurance policies before having genetic testing.