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Cancer Risk Evaluation Programs at Penn

Penn Medicine offers risk evaluation services including cancer genetic testing to help you learn more about your personal risk for cancers such as:

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer
  • Sarcoma

Our risk evaluation team can help by:

  • Assessing your personal risk factors for the development of cancer
  • Providing you with leading-edge analytic systems for early detection
  • Connecting you with remote cancer genetic support and screening services if you do not live close to Philadelphia
  • Giving you the best care

What sets our cancer risk evaluation services apart?

Our multi-specialty programs provide:

  • A patient-centered approach, ensuring you and your loved ones receive the medical care and emotional support you need.
  • An interdisciplinary team approach, whereby all your physicians, nurses, genetic counselors, and other health care professionals work closely together to optimize your care.
  • Weekly clinician conferences led by our nationally recognized experts in cancer and genetics to discuss patient care and clinical management.
  • An opportunity to participate in support group/educational programs exclusively for women at high risk for cancer, often due to a strong family history.
  • Communication with your referring physician, including a detailed cancer risk management plan developed specifically for you.

Learn more about our cancer risk evaluation, and our cancer risk evaluation programs below.

Basser Center for BRCA Research

Basser Center for BRCA Research

The Basser Center for BRCA is the only center in the world solely devoted to BRCA-related cancers. The Basser Center for BRCA offers men and women with a gene mutation in either BRCA1 or BRCA2 education, resources and support. 

People with gene mutations on BRCA1 and BRCA2 are at increased risk for developing certain cancers including

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer

Learn more about the Basser Center for BRCA.

Cancer Risk Evaluation Program (CREP)

Cancer Risk Evaluation Program (CREP)

Located at Pennsylvania Hospital, the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program (CREP) provides risk evaluation services to help you identify your risk for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, gastrointestinal cancers and sarcoma. 

Our clinicians and counselors will:

  • Help you understand known and personal risks
  • Answer questions about your personal cancer-related concerns
  • Counsel you about preventative and screening options

Learn more about the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program located at Pennsylvania Hospital.

Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Evaluation Program

Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Evaluation Program

Men and women concerned about their personal risk of developing a gastrointestinal (GI) cancer, may be interested in genetic testing and counseling through our GI Cancer Risk Evaluation program. 

This program offers:

  • Genetic testing and counseling for people with inherited syndromes that may put them at higher risk for cancer
  • Genetic testing and counseling for people who have multiple family members with colon polyps, GI cancers or other types of cancer
  • Counseling for screenings and other preventative measures against GI cancers
 Learn more about the GI Cancer Risk Evaluation Program.

Mariann and Robert MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center

Mariann and Robert MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center

Located in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, the team of genetic counselors and medical experts at the Mariann and Robert MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center help you identify your risk for breast cancer, ovarian cancer and other cancers. 

Here, you will discover caring clinicians who can help you in the following proactive ways:

  • Analyze your family health history for inherited risk syndrome
  • Streamline the process of genetic testing
  • Provide customized medical recommendations focusing on risk reduction strategies and risk avoidance
  • Facilitate long-term, proactive follow-up care as indicated with the appropriate specialist
Learn more about the Mariann and Robert MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center located at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

Abramson Cancer Center Telegenetics Program

Abramson Cancer Center Telegenetics Program

For patients and their families who are interested in genetic testing, but may be too far to visit our program in person, our telegenetics program offers remote cancer genetic services.

Using real-time videoconferencing in community practices, our genetic counselors are able to screen and counsel patients remotely that would otherwise not be able to utilize these services at their current location.

Learn about the ACC Telegenetics Program and its services, which include remote screening, interpreting test results and genetic counseling.

Preparing for a Cancer Risk Evaluation

Assessing Your Risk for Hereditary Cancer

Sometimes, we see a specific pattern of cancer in the family called a cancer syndrome. A cancer syndrome refers to a cluster of specific cancers that occurs more often than expected in a particular family.

To determine if a family may have a hereditary cancer syndrome, a detailed family history of cancer needs to be collected and organized. With this information, an assessment can be performed to determine the likelihood that the family has a hereditary cancer syndrome or if the family history of cancer is more likely due to chance.

Some details about personal or family history of cancer can be suggestive of a hereditary cancer syndrome, including:

  • Early onset – diagnosis at an age younger than typically seen (e.g. breast cancer in 20s, 30s and 40s)
  • Multiple primary tumors (e.g. bilateral breast cancer)
  • Multiple generations affected with the same or related cancers
  • Early onset of colon polyps, colon cancer or multiple family members with colon polyps
  • Ethnicity - (e.g. being of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and having breast or ovarian cancer)
  • Being diagnosed with rare type of cancer such as ovarian or male breast cancer
  • A constellation of tumors consistent with a specific cancer syndrome such as breast and ovarian; colon and endometrial; sarcoma, breast, brain and adrenal cortical carcinoma (ACC)

What to Expect at a Risk Evaluation Appointment

We will provide you with a questionnaire that helps guide you in collecting and recording your family history of cancer for both immediate and more extended relatives.

Some important questions for relatives who have had cancer include:

  • Where in the body did the cancer start?

  • Was there more than one type of cancer?

  • At what age was the cancer(s) diagnosed?

  • What type of treatment did this family member have?

  • What is the pathology, or specific type, of the cancer?

Also, learning general information about family members including causes of death, illnesses, and where your ancestors came from may be useful.

Our genetic counselors will meet with you to discuss your personal and family history, and to determine if further genetic evaluation may be right for you.