While most cases of cancer happen by chance due to a variety of factors, about 10% of the time, cancer is linked to a single change in a gene, or mutation, that has been passed down from generation to generation. This is referred to as hereditary cancer.
Families with hereditary cancer often have multiple family members affected with cancer, and certain cancers may be diagnosed at younger ages. A person who has inherited a gene mutation associated with hereditary cancer will not necessarily get cancer, but he or she is at a higher risk than those without a gene mutation.
The Counsyl Reliant Cancer Screen can help determine if you carry a mutation that may put you at an increased risk for cancer.
The Reliant Cancer Screen can determine whether you are at an increased risk of certain cancers.
The cancer patterns in your family will help your provider determine your risks and options. Before your next appointment, try to gather whatever information you can about your relatives on both sides of your family who have been affected by cancer.
- You’ll need to know the type of cancer they had and at what age they were diagnosed
- If you or anyone in your family has had colon polyps (growths found during a colonoscopy), your provider will want to know about that too
- If you think anyone in your family might have already had genetic screening for cancer, it’s helpful if you can provide that information, including the genes they were tested for and the results
Possible results of the Reliant Cancer Screen
A negative result from genetic screening does not mean that you will never develop cancer. You may still be at risk, especially if you have a strong personal or family history of the disease. If you have a negative result, your healthcare provider may still advise that additional cancer screening is appropriate for you and your family.
Variant of uncertain significance
Sometimes a change is identified in a gene, but there is limited scientific evidence that it increases risk for cancer. These types of changes are called variants of uncertain significance and they are quite common. Professional societies recommend that variants of uncertain significance be treated as negative results when it comes to making clinical decisions.
A positive result is not a diagnosis of cancer, nor is it a guarantee that you will develop the disease. A positive result means only that there is a mutation in one of the genes tested that is known to cause an increased chance of developing one or more types of cancer over your lifetime. With this knowledge, you’ll have the chance to work with your healthcare provider to develop a prevention and/or treatment program.
The Reliant Cancer Screen can look at more than 25 genes associated with risk for many different kinds of cancer, such as breast, ovarian, colon, pancreatic, prostate, thyroid, and others. Your healthcare provider can help you determine which combination of genes you should be screened for based on your personal and family cancer history.
You may already know that one type of cancer runs in your family and be taking appropriate steps to reduce your risk. However, finding out you have a gene mutation associated with hereditary cancer can alert you and your healthcare provider to other cancer risks you may be facing. For example, a strong family history of breast cancer could be due to a gene mutation that also increases risk for ovarian cancer.
If you are found to have a mutation associated with hereditary cancer, there are established guidelines to help you and your healthcare provider determine the appropriate next steps.
Earlier and/or more frequent screenings
Cancer screening tests can help catch the disease when it is at an earlier, more treatable stage. Based on your results, your healthcare provider can tailor your screening regimen. For instance, if your risk for breast cancer is elevated, you may be offered more frequent mammograms or breast MRIs.
In some cases there are surgeries that can reduce your risk for developing cancer. For example, having a mastectomy has been shown to reduce breast cancer risk by over 90% in women with BRCA mutations.
Some very common medications have been shown to reduce the risk of developing certain cancers. For example, women who use birth control pills can cut their risk of ovarian cancer in half, and aspirin has been shown to lower the risk of hereditary colon cancer.
If you have a positive result, there is a chance that your parents, siblings, children, and extended family members will have the same mutation. By sharing your information, you could provide your loved ones with vital information for their own health.
A genetic counselor can offer guidance about how to talk to your family and what to tell them.
Counsyl is in-network with most major insurance plans. We also have financial assistance and payment plans to help you handle a high deductible if you have one.
The Reliant Cancer Screen focuses on genes with clear cancer risks and patient management guidelines. The platform we use is scientifically validated and meets the highest industry standards, with >99.99% sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy—so you can feel confident in your results and the decisions you make.
Simplicity and support
The Reliant Cancer Screen must be ordered by a healthcare provider. A small sample of your saliva or blood is all that’s needed and results are ready in about two weeks on average. Counsyl supports you throughout every step of the testing process, from getting an estimate, to genetic counseling, and billing.
Putting your results in context
A series of educational videos and an on-demand or scheduled consultation with one of our board-certified genetic counselors is available with every Reliant Cancer Screen. Genetic counselors are specially-educated professionals who can provide the personalized help you may need to better understand your results and make informed choices.
If you are thinking about pursuing hereditary cancer screening, consider talking to your healthcare provider. He or she can help you understand more about how screening can help you determine your risk.