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Genetic Counseling

The Cancer Genetics Program at Virginia Urology

At Virginia Urology, we understand that a cancer diagnosis can bring up a lot of questions. Patients with cancer often wonder what caused the disease, and family members worry that they may be at increased risk for cancer too. The Cancer Genetics Program at Virginia Urology offers genetic counseling and testing services to support patients and families who are concerned about their cancer risks.

What is Genetic Testing?

 About 10% of cancers are hereditary and occur when a person inherits a change (mutation) in a gene that normally protects the body against cancer. Genetic testing uses a blood or saliva sample to see if a person has inherited a gene mutation that may increase their risk of developing cancer. National guidelines now encourage genetic testing for patients with many different types of cancers. Including (but not limited to):

  • Breast, Ovarian and Prostate Cancers
  • Colon, Endometrial and Pancreatic cancers
  • Kidney and Urothelial cancers.
  • Melanoma

What are the Benefits of Genetic Testing?

  • Help determine if you are at increased risk for cancer
  • Help create a personal plan to reduce your cancer risks
  • Help you detect cancer earlier, which increases the chance of a successful outcome
  • Results can help family members understand and manage their cancer risks

Genetic testing is especially important for cancer patients:

  • Test results can guide decisions about your treatment and follow-up care
  • Test results can affect treatment options for advanced disease, such as targeted therapy and clinical trials

What to Expect at Your Visit?                         

Genetic testing usually includes a counseling visit before and after the test to help you understand the risks and benefits and potential results in more detail.  Results usually take between 7-21 days. If needed, counseling can also be done over the phone.

Will My Insurance Cover the Cost of Testing?

  Genetic testing is typically covered by health insurance for with people with a personal and/or family history of cancer. There are many safeguards to prevent you from receiving a costly bill. Our Genetics Counselor can discuss specific insurance concerns at your initial visit.

Am I at Risk –Have you or anyone in your family had any of the following?

  • Early-onset cancers, such as breast, colon, or prostate cancer diagnosed before age 50
  • The same or related cancers in two or more relatives
  • Multiple cancers (e.g. a man with prostate & male breast cancer or a woman with urothelial & uterine cancer) 
  • Bilateral cancers (e.g. a woman with cancer in both breasts or a person with cancers in both kidneys)
  • Rare cancers, such as ovarian, pancreatic, or male breast cancer
  • A family member with a cancer gene mutation (e.g. BRCA)
  • Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry
  • Metastatic prostate cancer at any age
  • A history of prostate cancer with a Gleason Score of 7 or higher AND: 
    • >1 family member with breast cancer (<50 years of age) and/or ovarian cancer or
    • >2 family members* with breast, pancreatic, or prostate cancer   

If you answered yes to any of the above, talk with your doctor about whether genetic counseling and testing is right for you.

Your Cancer Genetics Team at Virginia Urology includes expert urologists who specialize in cancer care and Heather Hannon, ACGN, ANP-BC, OCN, CBCN. Heather is an advanced clinical genomics nurse with advanced training in genetics. She is also a board-certified adult nurse practitioner and an oncology certified nurse.   Contact us today at 804-330-9105 to schedule your appointment.