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Cancer Genetics

cancer genetics

In the Cancer Genetics Department we look after individuals and families with inherited cancer or suspected inherited cancer.

A person with a high incidence of a certain type of cancer running in their family may have a genetic predisposition to that particular cancer.

We provide comprehensive support and counselling to each patient and let them know what their risk is and how to manage it.

We mostly see families with a history of breast or bowel cancer but we also see families where the same cancer occurs several times, particularly if diagnosed at a young age.

Referral to the service

Patients referred to us will receive a family history questionnaire in the post. These are followed up with a phone call or letter.

If appropriate, patients are then seen in clinic by a counsellor or doctor. Blood samples may be taken for genetic testing.

An example patient journey

A referral has been received from a family history clinic because there have been four breast cancers in a family under the age of fifty.

A questionnaire is sent out to the individual to gather information about their family history. The department uses this information to draw up a family tree and check diagnoses where necessary.

The patient is seen in clinic and the risk of developing cancer is discussed.

A plan is made regarding screening and referrals are sent to the relevant departments.

The doctor or counsellor also discusses which other relatives may need to seek information and advice in their own right.

If genetic testing is appropriate, blood is taken and sent to the laboratory. If a specific genetic mistake is found then the patient is brought back to clinic for further information and advice for the whole family.

If no genetic mistake is identified then there may still be an underlying genetic risk so the offer of screening for the patient and close family members will continue as originally planned.


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