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Cancer genetic counseling

Cancer genetic counseling

Genetic counseling can help you determine your risk for certain inheritable cancers.


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What it is

If you or a close relative has had cancer, you may be concerned about your risk for future cancers and what you can do to reduce that risk. You may also wonder if your siblings, children or other relatives are at risk. Genetic counseling can help answer these questions.

In genetic counseling, a specially trained genetic counselor will help answer these questions and help you make decisions that are right for you. A genetic counselor is a nationally certified health care provider, who can:

  • interpret complex family histories
  • educate about cancers that run in families (known as inherited or genetic cancer)
  • talk about cancer risks, screening and prevention for you and your family
  • help patients and families make informed decisions about genetic testing and help interpret test results

Not everyone with a personal or family history of cancer will benefit from a genetic test. Meeting with a genetic counselor does not mean that you will have a genetic test. You may learn more about the testing options and if they are right for you.

Before you have a genetic test, you want know:

  • that the correct test is being done
  • how valid the test results are
  • what your next steps are when you receive the results (positive or negative)

Not all genes linked to cancer risk have been identified. Genetic counseling may be right for you if you or a close relative had any of these:

  • breast cancer at age 45 to 50 or younger
  • breast cancer at any age with Jewish ancestry
  • ovarian cancer at any age
  • colorectal cancer at younger than age 50
  • any rare type of cancer
  • similar types of cancer in many relatives (in either your mother's family or father's family)
  • more than 10 precancerous colon polyps during your lifetime
  • more than one type of cancer

If you or any of your family have or had any of the above, or if you are concerned about your cancer risk, talk with your health care provider about genetic counseling. You will need a referral.


Good to know

Allina Health provides cancer genetic counseling through TeleHealth services. Real-time, remote, face-to-face health care video interactions provide individual cancer risk assessment and management plans based on personal and family history. Genetic testing will be arranged as needed.

Locations where TeleHealth services are provided include:

  • Buffalo Hospital
  • Cambridge Medical Center
  • Cuyuna Regional Medical Center
  • District One Hospital
  • First Light Health System
  • Glencoe Regional Health Services
  • New Ulm Medical Center
  • River Falls Area Hospital
  • Riverwood Healthcare Center
  • Willmar Regional Cancer Center

If you are interested in this service, call 612-863-0228.

What to expect

Genetic testing is done with a blood test. These tests are usually covered by insurance. Your genetic counselor will help you with this.

How is this service billed?

There is no fee from the genetic counselor. There may be a room charge or other fee from your clinic. The fee is not billed under the genetic counselor’s name but under the health care provider who referred you for genetic counseling or from a clinic doctor.

Check with your insurance provider to see if your insurance will cover this service.

Related links

Source: Allina Health Cancer Care
Reviewed by: Allina Health Cancer Care

First published: 6/3/2019
Last reviewed: 6/3/2019