Is the Cancer in Your Family Hereditary?

Genetic Counseling for Patients of Riverside Health System-Virginia

Hereditary Cancer

Hereditary cancers occur when a person carries a change (mutation) in a gene that normally protects the body from developing cancer. This change increases a person’s risk for one or more types of cancer and can be passed from generation to generation.

Assess Your Cancer Risk

Family History

Families with one of these mutations may have multiple cases of these cancers. That is why knowing your family history is an important first step in understanding your risks.

Genetic Testing

A genetic test can tell if a mutation exists in your family. If you test positive for a gene mutation, your
lifetime risk for cancer is high. There are options available for lowering your cancer risk and for
detecting cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage. If you have already been diagnosed with cancer, genetic test results may change your treatment and follow-up options.

  • A positive genetic test result does not guarantee that you will have cancer, but it does mean you are
    at higher risk for developing cancer.
  • A negative test result does not mean that you will never have cancer.
  • Your risk for cancer will depend not only on your genetic test result, but on other factors such as family history and environmental influences.

Genetic Counseling

Genetic counselors are experts in hereditary cancer who will help you understand whether the cancer in
your family is hereditary and what to do about it.

Telegenetic counselingYour genetic counselor appointment will occur via telephone or video. The board-certified Genetic Counselor will:

  • Review your family health history and explain your risk for cancer.
  • Discuss whether you are a candidate for gene testing and describe the benefits and limitations of testing.
  • Facilitate the appropriate genetic test with your doctor if you choose to proceed with testing.
  • Interpret gene test results and explain what they mean for you and your family.
  • Discuss how to manage your cancer risk and provide recommendations in a written summary report to you and your doctor for follow-up care.

Learn More About Genetic Counseling

The following videos were created by the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) to answer questions that people commonly have:

Is genetic counseling right for you? Fill out this short questionnaire to find out.

Preventive Services Are Covered Under the Affordable Care Act

If you have a new health insurance plan or insurance policy that began on or after September 23, 2010, the following preventive services must be covered without you having to pay a copayment or co-insurance or meet your deductible.

Covered preventive services for women:

  • Counseling about genetic testing for women at higher risk for hereditary breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer chemo-prevention counseling for women at higher risk for hereditary breast cancer

Some important details:

  • This provision is effective as soon as your plan began its first new “plan year” or “policy year” on or after September 23, 2010.*
  • Health plans are only required to provide these preventive services through an in-network provider.
  • If you have questions about whether these new provisions apply to your plan, contact your insurer, plan administrator or we will check for you.

*If your plan is “grandfathered,” these benefits may not be available to you.

The Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act (GINA)

This law provides national protections against discrimination for health insurance and employment purposes based on genetic test results. Some states offer additional protections for health care consumers that undergo genetic testing. For more information, visit:

If you are interested in a genetics consultation with InformedDNA, talk to your provider today about a referral!


  • Download the patient FAQ on our genetic counseling services