Resources for Patients and Families

A diagnosis of hereditary cancer can be confusing and frightening. You and your family will be able to better manage your diagnosis by learning more about the syndrome, its treatment and the many options you have for support.

Frequently Asked Questions

Review some of the questions patients and families commonly ask about hereditary cancers.

What is genetic counseling?

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

What is a genetic counselor?

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.

Knowledge and Support Resources

Use these resources to learn more about hereditary cancers and find support from families dealing with the same syndromes.

Local Resources

National Resources