Cancer can be a devastating diagnosis, and the risk of developing certain types of cancer can be higher in some women due to hereditary factors. Fortunately, hereditary cancer screening is available to help identify women who may be at increased risk for certain types of cancer.
The Center for Women’s Health in Wichita, Kansas, provides hereditary cancer screening and related services to help women at risk of developing cancer take early preventive measures.
What is hereditary cancer screening?
Hereditary cancer screening is a test that analyzes a woman's DNA to determine whether she has inherited specific gene mutations that increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
The most well-known genetic mutations associated with increased cancer risk are BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
How is hereditary cancer screening performed?
Hereditary cancer screening typically involves a blood test or saliva sample. We send the sample to a laboratory, where it’s analyzed for specific genetic mutations associated with cancer risk.
Who should consider hereditary cancer screening?
Not all women need to consider hereditary cancer screening, but it’s recommended for those who have a family history of certain types of cancer. Women who may be good candidates for hereditary cancer screening include those who have a family history of:
- Breast or ovarian cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Lynch syndrome
Not all cases of hereditary cancer are linked to family history. In some cases, genetic mutations may occur spontaneously and increase the risk of cancer.
What happens after the screening?
If hereditary cancer screening reveals that you have inherited a genetic mutation associated with cancer risk, we may recommend additional screenings or preventive measures. These can include:
- More frequent cancer screenings
- Prophylactic surgery
- Medications that can lower cancer risk
Having certain inherited gene mutations doesn’t mean you will develop cancer, but screening can help identify if you may be at increased risk so you can take preventive measures.
Benefits of genetic cancer screening
Women who are identified as having an increased risk of cancer can begin screenings at an earlier age and more frequently, which can lead to earlier detection and better outcomes. Additionally, you can take steps to reduce your risk, such as undergoing prophylactic surgery or taking medications that reduce cancer risk.
Knowing that you have an increased risk of cancer can empower you to make informed decisions about your health.
Benefits of genetic counseling
Before you undergo hereditary cancer screening, we provide genetic counseling to help you understand the risks and benefits of hereditary cancer screening and whether testing is appropriate for your situation.
We can also help you interpret the results of the test and make informed decisions about what steps to take next.
If you’re at risk for developing cancer, regular screening and monitoring can play a key role in early detection and early treatment. To discuss your family cancer history and inherited cancer screening, call us at 316-202-1690 or request an appointment online.
Telehealth appointments are also available. Please call our clinic to determine if your visit is eligible for a telemedicine appointment.