Genetics

Infirmary Cancer Care offers a comprehensive Cancer Genetics Program to educate and evaluate your personal and family history of cancer.

What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing looks for specific inherited changes (mutations) in a person’s DNA. Genetic mutations can have harmful, beneficial, neutral (no effect), or uncertain effects on health. Mutations that are harmful may increase a person’s chance, or risk, of developing a disease such as cancer. Overall, inherited mutations are thought to play a role in about 5 to 10 percent of all cancers.

What genetic tests are available for cancer risk?

More than 50 hereditary cancer syndromes have been identified. The majority of these are caused by strong mutations that are inherited.

Cancer types that may be inherited include:

  • Breast
  • Ovarian
  • Prostate
  • Pancreatic
  • Osteosarcoma(bone cancer)
  • Leukemia
  • Adrenocortical carcinoma (cancer of the adrenal glands)
  • Endometrial
  • Colorectal
  • Non-malignant colon polyps
  • Eye cancer (cancer of the retina)
  • Pinealoma (cancer of the pineal gland)
  • Melanoma
  • Medullary thyroid cancer
  • Pheochromocytoma (benign adrenal gland tumor)
  • Kidney

Who should consider genetic counseling for cancer risk?

  • Cancer that was diagnosed at an unusually young age
  • Multiple primary cancers in the same person
  • The person being tested has a personal or family history that suggests an inherited cancer risk condition
  • Multiple relatives that have the same type of cancer (for example, a mother, daughter, and sisters with breast cancer)
  • Unusual cases of a specific cancer type (for example, breast cancer in a man)

What can a genetic counselor do for me?

Our genetic counselor on staff can help you with:

  • understanding genetics and inherited cancers
  • determining if genetic testing is right for you and your family
  • assessing your potential cancer risks based on personal and family history
  • following the genetic testing process
  • interpreting your genetic testing results
  • managing the steps to take post testing
  • providing resources and support

Who do I contact for more information about genetic testing?

Caroline Koch, M.S.
Genetic Counselor
Direct: 251-435-6595
Main: 251-435-CARE (2273)
Caroline.Koch@infirmaryhealth.org