Cancer Genetics

Cancer Genetics

The majority of cancers happen completely by chance. This is also known as sporadic cancer. However, up to 10% of cancers are hereditary, meaning they were caused by an inherited genetic change that is being passed on throughout a family. Cancer genetic counselors help to identify families at risk for hereditary cancer syndromes (increased cancer risk), which then informs individuals of the appropriate screening and management options available. These options are aimed to reduce cancer risk, detect cancer at earlier stages, prevent new cancers, or determine targeted therapy options for those with certain cancers. Cancer genetic counselors serve as a member of a person’s healthcare team to help further personalize their cancer treatment and/or cancer prevention plan. 

A personal and/or family history of any of the following may increase the chance for a person to have a hereditary cancer syndrome:

  • Younger age at cancer diagnosis (50 years or younger)
  • Multiple different cancers in one individual
  • Rare cancers (ovarian, pancreatic, male breast cancer, etc.)
  • Multiple family members with the same type of cancer
  • Multiple family members with related cancers (breast/prostate/ovarian, colon/stomach/uterine, etc.)
  • Polyposis (the development of many colorectal polyps)

Cancer genetic counseling is available over-the-phone or in-person at the following three Mount Carmel locations:

Mount Carmel St. Ann's 
477 Cooper Road, Suite 100 (Women’s Health Center) 
Westerville, OH 43081

Mount Carmel East, Medical Bldg #4 
5969 East Broad Street, Suite 100, Imaging Center 
Columbus, OH 43213 

Mount Carmel Grove City, Medical Bldg #2 
5300 North Meadows Drive, Suite 1900 
Grove City, Ohio 43123

To schedule a cancer genetic counseling appointment at Mount Carmel or for additional information, please call 614-234-6848. 
For providers: Referrals can be faxed to 614-234-7671 or can be placed directly via EPIC (Ambulatory Referral to Genetics; MCEMB CA Risk Genetic)

View our Cancer Genetics PDF brochure


How do I prepare for my appointment?

The most helpful thing you can do is collect information about your family members who have had cancer. That includes both sides of your family for several generations. Information you should collect includes the type of cancer they may have had and the age they were when they were diagnosed. If anyone in your family has already had cancer genetic testing done, obtaining copies of their genetic testing report will be very informative for you and your genetic counselor.

What happens at a genetic counseling appointment?

You’ll meet with one of our genetic counselors to discuss:

  • Your personal and/or family history of cancer.
  • The likelihood that the cancers in the family are hereditary.
  • The risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing, including insurance coverage and confidentiality.
  • Medical management, including available screening and risk reduction options.
  • For patients that decide to proceed with genetic testing, a blood or saliva sample is collected.

What happens after a genetic counseling appointment?

If you decide to undergo genetic testing, results are typically available within 1-3 weeks. Your genetic counselor will call you to discuss the results in detail. You and your healthcare team will then receive a detailed letter that summarizes the information discussed. This letter includes education, medical management implications for you and your family, a copy of your test report, as well as recommendations for testing other relatives, if appropriate. Patients who decide not to undergo genetic testing will also receive a similar detailed letter with recommendations based on their personal and family history.

Will my insurance cover genetic testing?

Genetic testing is becoming increasingly affordable. Most insurance providers cover genetic testing 80-100% if medically indicated. There are also patient assistance programs and affordable patient-pay options now available.

Can I lose my health insurance if I have a hereditary disease?

There are state and federal laws in place to protect you. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is a federal law that was passed in 2008. GINA applies to group health insurance plans and self-insurance plans. However, GINA does not apply to life insurance, long-term care insurance, and disability insurance.