Hereditary Cancer Service

If you have a family history of cancer, your chances of getting some types of cancer may be higher than that of the average person. The Hereditary Cancer Service evaluates patients' risks and provides guidance for reducing those risks.

We know that genetic factors, in combination with environmental influences, play a role in the development of cancer. Many cancers are random occurrences. However, some people inherit changes in their genes called mutations, which put them at greater risk for developing cancer. This is called hereditary cancer predisposition.

Many types of cancer can have a hereditary basis. Genetic testing is most commonly ordered for family histories of breast, colon, ovarian and uterine cancers, but is also available for other types of cancer, including thyroid, stomach and pancreatic cancers. We are still finding genes linked to cancer. In some cases, testing through a genetic research study is available.

More frequent screening, medications or surgeries can help prevent genetically predisposed cancers or detect them earlier. Early detection leads to a better chance of successful treatment.

GrimesDr. Alex Urquhart and Genetic Counselor Leslie Grimes are specially trained to evaluate personal and family medical histories and help patients understand the genetic testing process and test results. A genetic counseling appointment includes discussion of hereditary cancer syndromes in general, patient-specific risks, risks to family members, and discussion of genetic testing, if applicable. For information or to make an appointment, please call (970) 569-7626.

What's Your Risk for Hereditary Cancer?

Use this checklist to evaluate your risk for hereditary cancer. If you answer yes to one or more of the questions, cancer genetic counseling may be appropriate for you.

  • Have several family members had cancer?
  • Have you or a relative had cancer before age 50?
  • Has more than one family member had the same type of cancer?
  • Have you or a relative had more than one type of cancer?
  • Have you or a relative had a rare or unusual cancer?