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Genetic Counseling

Institutes & Services > TriHealth Cancer Institute

Video: Debbie Heile learns her cancer risk through genetic testing. View text version of story >>

TriHealth Cancer Institute offers genetic counseling and genetic testing for individuals concerned about the risk of an inherited cancer predisposition. The goal of genetic counseling is to provide personalized information about an individual’s cancer risk factors, genetic testing options, and recommendations for cancer screening, treatment and management.

In most cases, cancer is not related to strong inherited factors.  However, some cancers are associated with familial syndromes than can increase an individual’s risk to develop specific cancers.  The most common inherited cancers are breast, ovarian, and colon; although other types exist.

What Happens at a Genetic Counseling Appointment?

Risk Assessment: The genetic counselor will take a complete family history and medical history.  During the risk assessment the patient will learn more about their cancer risk and potential risk to other family members.

Education: Includes learning about the genetics of hereditary cancer, genetic testing options, and other screening, management and treatment options.

Testing:  If indicated, genetic testing is offered, but only after the benefits, risk and limits of each test are carefully considered.  Deciding whether or not to have genetic testing is a personal choice.  The genetic test may include either a blood draw or collection of saliva (buccal sample).

Results: Individuals receive their test result from the genetic counselor.  A discussion follows regarding how the result affects cancer screening, treatment, and management, as well as the testing recommendations for other relatives.

Does Insurance Cover Genetic Testing?

Many insurance plans cover genetic testing. Most testing labs will obtain pre-authorization from your insurance carrier prior to testing. Should there be a high out-of-pocket expenses, the lab will contact you for approval before beginning the test.  The genetic counselor can help you find out what your insurance will pay for.

Who Should Consider Cancer Genetic Testing?

Testing is recommended only after discussion of the benefits, risks and limits, and potential outcomes of genetic testing.  Common characteristics of hereditary cancer families include:

  • Cancer that occurs at an early age (50 or younger)
  • Two or more close relatives who have the same type of cancer or related cancers
  • Cancer that occurred in more than one generation
  • One family member has two or more cancers
  • A rare cancer or tumor, such as sarcoma or male breast cancer
  • Cancer that develops in both breasts, both ovaries, both kidneys, etc.
  • Any person concerned about developing cancer because of their family history
Specific Examples of Hereditary Cancer Concerns

Breast and Ovarian Cancer

  • You or a close relative had breast cancer at an early age (50 or younger)
  • You had breast cancer at any age and a close relative had breast cancer earlier than age 50
  • You had a “triple negative” breast cancer
  • You had ovarian cancer at any age
  • You or a close relative had bilateral breast cancer, first diagnosed at age 50 or younger
  • You or a close relative had breast and ovarian cancer
  • There are 3 close relatives on the same side of the family with either breast, ovarian, or pancreatic cancers diagnosed at any age
  • You have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and were diagnosed with breast cancer at any age
  • Any male with breast cancer or a close relative of a male with breast cancer
  • Your close relative carries a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation

Colon and Uterine Cancer

  • You had colon or uterine cancer diagnosed at age 50 or younger
  • You had 2 colon cancers, or colon AND uterine cancer at any age
  • You had 2 close relatives with colon cancer; one diagnosed at 55 years or younger
  • You had 3 close relatives with colorectal and/or uterine cancer at any age
  • You or a close relative has had 10 or more total colon polyps
  • You or a relative had abnormal tumor screening such as MSI or IHC

How Do I Make an Appointment for Genetic Counseling and Testing?

A physician must refer you for an appointment by either:

  • Faxing the referral form to the genetic counseling office at 513 852 1411. The genetic counselor will call you to set up an appointment
  • Giving you the referral and having you call TriHealth Scheduling directly at 513 569 6602 to make an appointment

Provider Resources

Referral Instructions for TriHealth Providers


Patient Resources


Lynch Syndrome: What Is It?


Should I Be Tested for Lynch Syndrome?


Success Story: Local Woman Supports Early Genetic Testing


Family Cancer Support Group


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