Helen F. Graham Cancer Center
& Research Institute

Cancer Genetic Counseling

The genetic risk assessment program at Christiana Care’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute can help identify your risks for hereditary cancer based on family history and genetics, as well as additional personal and environmental factors.

Inherited traits carried in our genes can influence our overall health and our susceptibility to disease, including some types of cancer. Research has shown that genetic makeup plays a role in the development of about 5 to 10 percent of cancers, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer, as well as melanoma.

Knowing the risks for cancer in your family may help you to avoid cancer or to find it early, when it is most curable.

How does genetic risk assessment work?

Our genetic risk assessment team works closely with you and your family to provide a comprehensive assessment of cancer risks and develop a plan to keep you healthy. Our specially trained genetic counselor analyzes your personal and family history for any evidence of increased cancer risk due to hereditary factors. The genetic counselor then will explore any areas of concern with you and thoroughly discuss information regarding risk factors, as well as options for risk-reduction and early detection.

If appropriate, you will receive information about genetic testing for susceptibility genes. Based on the risk assessment, if you choose to pursue genetic testing, the genetic risk assessment program will collect the necessary blood samples from you for analysis. When the test results are in, the genetic counselor will meet with you to go over results so that you can make informed decisions with your doctors about your health care options.

Hereditary cancer: What are the risks?

Research clearly indicates a link between genes and cancer. This link is often strongest in families where:

  • Cancer occurs at a much younger age than average (breast cancer prior to age 40, ovarian cancer prior to age 50, colorectal cancer prior to age 45).
  • Cancer occurs in more than one generation prior to age 50.
  • More than one type of cancer occurs in the same close relative (breast and ovarian cancer).
  • Bilateral disease (cancer occurs in both breasts).
  • Cancer occurs in the less commonly affected sex (male breast cancer).
  • Several rare cancers occur in a family.

Genetic Risk Assessment Program
Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute
4701 Ogletown-Stanton Road, Newark, DE 19713 directions