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Mariann and Robert MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center

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No one can exactly predict whether or not you will develop cancer. But there are factors that put you at a higher risk. Determining your personal risk may create an opportunity for prevention or more effective treatment.

At the Mariann and Robert MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center, we understand the implications of cancer risk for you and your entire family. As one of the nation's largest genetics programs, we help you identify, understand and manage your chance of developing cancer.

MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center: Why Choose the Abramson Cancer Center

We are one of the first programs in the country to offer comprehensive evaluation and testing for a wide variety of hereditary conditions including breast and ovarian cancers. At the MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center, you'll find:

  • High-level expertise: You'll work with nationally recognized experts who have years of experience in breast and ovarian cancer risk. We streamline the process of genetic testing and deliver education, guidance and support specific to your cancer risk. Meet our team.
  • Collaborative care: Our genetic counselors work hand-in-hand with your oncologists. We provide treatment, guidance and resources specific to your established risk, so that your care is personalized and effective.
  • Customized risk management: Using advanced technology, we evaluate your family health history for inherited risk syndromes. We partner with you to develop a lifetime plan that includes medical recommendations, risk reduction strategies and proactive long-term follow-up care.
  • Nationally recognized researchers: Our breast cancer research program is nationally recognized. Our scientific work means you benefit from the newest care protocols.
  • Dedicated resources for BRCA-related cancers: If you test positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, the Basser Center for BRCA focuses on research, treatment and prevention of BRCA-related cancers.
  • Access to research opportunities: We offer unparalleled studies focused on cancer risk. You'll have access to innovative care and clinical trials including novel screening trials, individualized risk modifications and therapies for specific gene mutations.

How We Manage Cancer Risk

Our expert evaluation considers both lifestyle and inherited cancer risk. We analyze your medical, personal and family history using advanced diagnostic technology. When appropriate, we offer genetic testing. We also review outside genetic test results if you've already been tested.

If we establish that you are at a high risk for breast cancer, we offer:

  • Tailored medical recommendations
  • Coordinated screening and long-term follow-up care
  • Opportunities to participate in innovative research studies
  • Education programs about the role of genetics in your disease
  • Support services, including cancer counselors

Understanding Hereditary Cancer

Familial (or inherited) breast and ovarian cancer occur when a change in a gene (mutation) is passed from generation to generation within a family. Mutations make you more likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer. About 5 to 10 percent of diagnosed breast cancers and 20 to 25 percent of diagnosed ovarian cancers are due to inherited genetic susceptibility.

The two genes most often linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2. Other genes are also associated with an increased risk of breast, ovarian and other cancers. The blood or saliva tests we use to identify BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations can check for many of these other genes at the same time.

Who Should Consider Genetic Testing

Our specially trained genetic counselors help you or your family determine if you are a candidate for testing. We conduct a genetic risk evaluation with or without a cancer diagnosis. If you've already been diagnosed with cancer, genetic testing establishes whether you have an increased risk of developing a second cancer.

Consider genetic testing if you or a family member has had:

Carlette's Journey with BRCA-Positive Breast Cancer

Even with a strong family history of cancer (including breast cancer), Carlette never considered cancer risk evaluation. But after a breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 34, she turned to the genetic counselors at the Abramson Cancer Center. Risk assessment testing verified that Carlette was positive for BRCA — a revelation that prompted her to undergo preventative treatment. Read Carlette's story.