Prevention & Early Detection

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How Do I Get Genetic Testing?

If you are interested in genetic testing to learn more about your cancer risk, your first step is to see a genetic counselor at the Genetic Counseling Service at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). You may want to see a genetic counselor to discuss testing or your doctor may refer you if any of the following is true:

  • You have had young-onset breast cancer (diagnosed before age 50).
  • You have had triple-negative breast cancer.
  • You are a man who has had breast cancer.
  • You have had ovarian cancer.
  • You have had young-onset uterine cancer (diagnosed before age 50).
  • You have had young-onset colorectal cancer (diagnosed before age 50).
  • You have had multiple colon polyps or young onset of polyps (before age 40).
  • Multiple generations of your family have had cancer. 
  • You have had two or more separate cancers diagnosed at the same or different times.

If you decide to pursue genetic testing after you meet with a genetic counselor, you will provide a sample of your DNA from a blood draw or a saliva swab. We will send your DNA sample to the genetic testing laboratory. Depending on the specifics of the genetic test, results will be available in three weeks to three months.

Testing for the Right Gene

For genetic testing to be helpful, it’s important to test for the correct gene. There are many genes that may predispose you to develop various cancers of the breast, ovaries, colon, or uterus. The most commonly tested genes are the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Disease-causing mutations in these genes have been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome.

There are other cancer syndromes that may also lead to early-onset cancer in a family, including Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis, Cowden syndrome, and Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Talking with a genetic counselor will ensure that you receive the most appropriate testing for your situation.

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment with a genetic counselor, call (206) 288-7222.

Non-SCCA patients who would like to see a genetic counselor will be referred to the Genetic Medicine Clinic at University of Washington Medical Center.