Cancer is a disease of aging that result from an accumulation of acquired faults in the genes that control our cell growth. We acquire these gene faults over decades, hence the risk of developing cancer increases with age. Cancer is a common condition affecting around 1 in 3 Australians during their lifetime.
A small number of these cancers are thought to be “hereditary", caused by an inherited gene fault from the time we are conceived. These faults can lead to an increased risk for developing associated cancers. For example, an inherited fault in genes such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 increases the risk for developing breast, prostate, ovarian and in some rare cases pancreatic cancers at a younger age. Although the risk of developing cancer is higher, it is important to acknowledge that not everyone with a gene fault will develop cancer.
Genetic counselling can help to clarify whether an inherited gene fault is the cause of cancers that have occurred in a family. Genetic testing information may change a treatment plan or help in making surgical management decisions. It can also help at-risk family members to understand and adapt to the implications of such conditions.
Interpretation of your personal and family history of cancer to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence.
Education on natural history of the condition, inheritance pattern, genetic testing, management, prevention and support resources.
Counselling to promote informed choices in view of risk assessment, family goals, ethical and religious values.
Support to encourage the best possible adjustment to the diagnoses cancer for you or an affected family member and/or to the risk of recurrence of that disorder