Hereditary Cancer Program
What to Expect

What to Expect at Your First Appointment at the Hereditary Cancer Program

Unlike the color of our eyes or the shape of our nose, cancer is not a trait we'd like to pass along to our children. But certain cancers can be inherited. Hereditary cancers are caused by mutations in certain genes passed from parents to children. These mutations do not guarantee cancer, but they increase your risk of developing certain cancers. Some common hereditary cancers are breast, ovarian, and colon cancer.

The Hereditary Cancer Program is a team of genetic counselors and doctors who can:

  • Provide a complete evaluation of your family medical history
  • Assess your risk for hereditary cancers based on your family history and genetic testing
  • Make personalized screening and medical recommendations based on your results

You may be at risk of hereditary cancer if you or someone in your family has a history of:

  • Cancer diagnosed under the age of 50
  • More than one cancer in the same person
  • Three or more relatives with the same type of cancer
  • Male breast cancer
  • Breast and ovarian cancer in close family members
  • Colon cancer and uterine cancer in close family members
  • Breast or ovarian cancer and a Jewish background

After testing, our genetic counselors will help you understand the results and provide guidance on recommended screening and management practices to help you stay healthy.

Making an Appointment at the Hereditary Cancer Program

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get the answers you need. If you'd like to schedule an appointment with a genetic counselor at the Hereditary Cancer Program, you or your doctor may do one of the following:

  • Contact us directly to schedule an appointment
  • Download and fill out this referral form and fax it to our office. We will contact you to schedule within two business days to schedule an appointment.
  • Fill out and submit this online form. We will contact you within two business days to schedule an appointment.

Before Your Appointment

To prepare for your first visit, we recommend talking to your family members and making a list of cancer diagnoses, ages at each diagnosis, medications and treatments they've taken, and screening practices each family member has had. Also, ask your family members if they have had genetic testing in the past. If a family member has had testing, bring a copy of the results to the appointment.

Most insurance companies typically cover your first genetic counseling appointment. We do not ask for prior authorization from your insurance company for genetic testing before the first appointment. Your counselor will discuss the cost of testing at your first visit.

On the Day of Your Visit to the Hereditary Cancer Program

Arriving at Your Appointment

Appointments for the Hereditary Cancer Program are available at the main Cincinnati Children’s location on Burnet Avenue and the Cincinnati Children’s Mason Campus. Appointments are also available at select contracted centers in Greater Cincinnati. Please make sure you know what building your appointment is in and plan for extra time to find parking.

We recommend arriving at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time to allow for registration.

If you are running late, please call us to let us know.

At Your Appointment

Your first appointment can take between 30 minutes to one hour. You will meet with a licensed genetic counselor with specialized experience in medical genetics and counseling. During that first visit, you and your counselor will discuss these topics:

  • Your medical history and your family's history of cancer
  • The likelihood that there is hereditary cancer in your family
  • The risk that you or your family members will develop cancer in the future
  • The benefits and limitations of genetic testing and your genetic testing options

At the end of your first visit, the genetic counselor may recommend cancer screening or further healthcare management. It is up to you to decide whether testing would be useful for you and your family.

The counselor will provide you with information about the cost of genetic testing. The price may vary depending on the testing ordered.

After Your Visit to the Hereditary Cancer Program

The possibility of having a hereditary cancer syndrome can be confusing and frightening. You and your family can better manage your health by learning more about the syndrome, testing options, treatment and the many options you have for support.

There are many resources available to learn more about hereditary cancers or connect with families living with a hereditary cancer syndrome. Here are a few resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

Genetic counseling is the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. This process integrates:

  • Interpretation of family and medical histories to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence
  • Education about inheritance, testing, management, prevention, resources and research
  • Counseling to promote informed choices and adaptation to the risk or condition

Genetic counselors are health professionals with specialized graduate degrees and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counseling. Most enter the field from a variety of disciplines, including biology, genetics, nursing, psychology, public health and social work.

Genetic counselors work as members of a health care team, providing information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. They identify families at risk, investigate the problem present in the family, interpret information about the disorder, analyze inheritance patterns and risks of recurrence and review available options with the family.

Genetic counselors also:

  • Provide supportive counseling to families
  • Serve as patient advocates and refer individuals and families to community or state support services
  • Serve as educators and resource people for other health care professionals and for the general public

Some counselors also work in administrative capacities. Many engage in research activities related to the field of medical genetics and genetic counseling.

This will depend on your insurance and whether or not they will cover our services. The first genetic counseling appointment is typically covered by most insurance companies.
Cost of genetic testing can vary depending on the testing ordered, which cannot be determined until we meet with you at your appointment. Of note, we do not perform prior authorization with your insurance company prior to the appointment. We work with laboratories that perform prior authorization after we send in your sample. Details about the cost of testing will be answered at your appointment.