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Cancer Care

The Cancer Genetics Program

Are you genetically at risk for certain types of cancers? In some families, a change or mutation in the genetic material, or DNA, predisposes those who carry it to developing cancer. This gene can be passed down from parent to child.

One indicator that your family carries the genetic risk is multiple family members with cancer. These cancers generally occur at younger ages than are typically seen in the general population. Sometimes people in families at genetic risk develop more than one type of cancer.

Spectrum Health's Cancer Genetics Program helps you identify if you have inherited cancer risks. But more important, it helps you know what to do with this information.

Our program was the first cancer genetics program in the region and is the only one in West Michigan staffed by a fellowship trained clinical geneticist as well as genetic counselors with master's degrees in the specialty. These counselors work individually with each patient to develop a strategic approach to risk assessment, early detection, risk reduction and prevention and research opportunities.

Who Would Benefit from Cancer Genetic Testing?

If you are wondering if your personal or family history suggests an inherited susceptibility to cancer, you may benefit from a consultation with a genetic counselor. 

Read more about common misconceptions that may act as barriers to individuals who could benefit from a genetics consultation.

How Our Cancer Genetic Program Works

Before Your Cancer Genetic Consultation

Before the initial clinic visit, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire with questions exploring your personal medical history, family cancer history, current care practices, and additional cancer risk factors. Without this information, we cannot provide an accurate risk assessment, and therefore this information is extremely important for your evaluation. In addition, it is often important for us to be able to review medical records on the individuals in the family who have had cancer. This allows us to confirm the exact type of cancer that was diagnosed (which is actually often very different from what is reported to us) and the age at diagnosis. Specific medical information often helps us to provide a more accurate risk assessment. We work with our patients to obtain family members' medical records as necessary.

During Your Cancer Genetic Consultation

The consultation generally consists of a review of your personal and family cancer histories, basic cancer genetics education, a personalized cancer risk assessment, a discussion of the possible option of genetic testing, and personalized medical recommendations for early detection, risk reduction and prevention, lifestyle modification, and possible research opportunities.

Following Your Cancer Genetic Consultation

A summary letter is sent to you and your referring physician, outlining your personal and family cancer histories, an assessment of the likelihood of an inherited risk for cancer in the family, and guidelines for follow-up care. No information will be forwarded to other physicians without your written consent.

Request a Cancer Genetic Consultation

Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

To request a consultation in the cancer genetics program or to speak to a genetic counselor, please call the number below.

Scheduling and Referrals: 616.486.6218

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