Prevention

At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), our cancer prevention and early detection clinics and genetic counseling services help a variety of people, including those who may be at higher risk of developing a certain cancer due to a family history of the disease or another underlying genetic reason.  

Others — people who already have cancer, such as prostate cancer or a blood cancer, because their genetics put them at higher risk — come to us to better understand how their genetics may impact their disease. Why does it matter, if they already have cancer? Because this information can help their physicians find better, more precise treatments that target the specific gene causing the problem.  

Gene The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein.

Routine screenings

Cancer prevention isn’t only for people who may be at higher risk. Everyone should be screened regularly for certain cancers, such as breast or colorectal (colon) cancer, and should check with their physician to find out which screenings they need and how often.  

For instance, if you are between the ages of 55 and 80 and have a long history of smoking, your physician may recommend that you be screened for lung cancer. Specifically, if you have a 30-pack-per-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit smoking within the past 15 years, you should be screened, even if you don’t have any symptoms. Experts recommend screening every year using low-dose computed tomography.  

If you need a routine screening, call us at (206) 606-6100 to schedule an appointment that’s convenient for you. 

Personalized prevention plans for those at higher risk

Everyone who comes to us is unique, including you. Because of this, our experts personalize their cancer prevention and surveillance approach to each individual who may be at higher risk for a certain cancer.  

One person’s plan might include more frequent colonoscopies to detect colon cancer. Another might benefit from a medication that reduces their risk. For some, a procedure to remove a growth before it becomes problematic could be the answer. Prevention could involve losing weight or stopping smoking. Often, a person’s cancer prevention plan includes a combination of approaches. 

Whatever your circumstances, the SCCA prevention experts — from our medical geneticists and genetic counselors to our blood cancer, lung cancer and gastrointestinal cancer experts and beyond — are here to help you, answer your questions and support you.  

Clinics and programs 

Learn more about our prevention clinics and early detection programs. Not sure where to go? Call us at (206) 606-6100 and we can direct you.  

Computed tomography A procedure that uses a computer linked to an X-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are used to create three-dimensional (3-D) views of tissues and organs. A procedure that uses a computer linked to an X-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are taken from different angles and are used to create three-dimensional (3-D) views of tissues and organs. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the tissues and organs show up more clearly. This scan may be used to help diagnose disease, plan treatment or find out how well treatment is working. Gastrointestinal Refers to the stomach and intestines. Also called GI. Genetic counselor A health care professional with special training in medical genetics and counseling. Genetic counselors help patients and families who have, or who may be at risk of, a genetic condition. A health professional who has special training in medical genetics and counseling. Genetic counselors help patients and families who have, or who may be at risk of, a genetic condition. They help patients find out their chances of having a genetic condition or of having a child or other family member with a genetic condition. They also help patients understand their options for genetic testing, including its risks and benefits. After genetic testing is done, genetic counselors help patients understand their test results, including how the results can affect other family members. They also provide counseling and support. Geneticist A scientist who has special training in the study of genes and heredity (the passing of genetic information from parents to their children). A scientist who has special training in the study of genes and heredity (the passing of genetic information from parents to their children). A medical geneticist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating genetic disorders or conditions. Medical geneticists also counsel individuals and families at risk for certain genetic disorders or cancers. Physician assistant A health professional who is licensed to do certain medical procedures under the guidance of a physician. A health professional who is licensed to do certain medical procedures under the guidance of a physician. A physician assistant may take medical histories, do physical exams, take blood and urine samples, care for wounds and give injections and immunizations. Screening Checking for disease when there are no symptoms. Because screening may find diseases at an early stage, there may be a better chance of curing the disease Checking for disease when there are no symptoms. Because screening may find diseases at an early stage, there may be a better chance of curing the disease. Examples of cancer screening tests are the mammogram (for breast cancer), colonoscopy (for colon cancer) and Pap and HPV tests (for cervical cancer). Screening can also include a genetic test to check for a person’s risk of developing an inherited disease. Surveillance Closely watching a patient’s condition but not treating it unless there are changes in test results. Surveillance is also used to find early signs that a disease has come back. In medicine, surveillance means closely watching a patient’s condition but not treating it unless there are changes in test results. Surveillance is also used to find early signs that a disease has come back. It may also be used for a person who has an increased risk of a disease, such as cancer. During surveillance, certain exams and tests are done on a regular schedule. In public health, surveillance may also refer to the ongoing collection of information about a disease, such as cancer, in a certain group of people. The information collected may include where the disease occurs in a population and whether it affects people of a certain gender, age or ethnic group. Symptom A physical or mental problem that a person experiences that may indicate a disease or condition. Symptoms cannot be seen and do not show up on medical tests. A physical or mental problem that a person experiences that may indicate a disease or condition. Symptoms cannot be seen and do not show up on medical tests. Some examples of symptoms are headache, fatigue, nausea and pain.

Cancer risk assessment

Better understanding your cancer risk can help both you and your family. If you learn through genetic testing that you have a higher risk of cancer because of your genetics (or that your current cancer has a genetic cause), your blood relatives can also benefit, since they may decide to be tested to determine their own risk. 

Breast health
Breast health

Evaluations of breast abnormalities, individual screening for high-risk people and treatment of benign breast problems as well as breast cancer.

Genetic counseling
Genetic counseling

Patients meet with medical geneticists or genetic counselors to review their family history of cancer and discuss genetic testing options.  

Hematologic Malignancy Genetics Clinic
Hematologic Malignancy Genetics Clinic

Risk assessment and genetic counseling for people who have or may be at increased risk for blood cancer. One of only a few clinics of its kind nationwide. 

Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic
Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic

Genetic counseling, testing and oncology review for men who already have prostate cancer. The only clinic of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. 

High risk prevention

Some people may be at higher risk of developing cancer. Our experts offer personalized prevention programs that helps reduce that risk. 

Breast and Ovarian Cancer Prevention
Breast and Ovarian Cancer Prevention

For people with an increased risk of breast cancer and/or gynecologic cancer due to family history or other genetic factors. 

Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention Program
Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention Program

For people who have had genetic testing and know they’re at higher risk of GI cancer. We develop a personalized prevention plan that helps reduce risk. 

High risk cancer surveillance
High risk cancer surveillance

This clinic offers a personalized approach to managing risk, providing regular surveillance for those at high risk of developing one or more cancers. 

Women’s wellness
Women’s wellness

Offers wellness-focused follow-up care after breast cancer treatment plus monitoring for women with a higher risk of developing cancer.  

Early detection

If an issue or precancerous tissue is detected early, cancer can sometimes be prevented. If cancer already exists, finding it early usually means it can be treated more easily. 

Breast cancer screening/Mammography
Breast cancer screening/Mammography

At the Breast Health Clinic, our experts use the most advanced 3D mammography technology and digital breast tomosynthesis to detect abnormalities.

Colorectal cancer screening and early detection
Colorectal cancer screening and early detection

Colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer and remove polyps, available at SCCA South Lake Union. 

Living tobacco free
Living tobacco free

Experienced counselors provide SCCA patients, caregivers and family members the support, medication and resources they need to quit tobacco.

Lung Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Clinic 
Lung Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Clinic 

Evaluates lung abnormalities found in routine screenings to determine whether they are cancerous. 

Lung cancer screening
Lung cancer screening

As one of the first Lung Cancer Screening Centers of Excellence, our experts use computed tomography (CT) to detect abnormalities at six sites across the Puget Sound.  

Prostate cancer screening and early detection
Prostate cancer screening and early detection

One of the best ways to detect prostate cancer early is through screening — testing to find the disease in men with no prostate cancer symptoms.

Skin cancer early detection and prevention
Skin cancer early detection and prevention

Left unchecked, abnormal skin growths can become cancerous and quickly spread. Our skin experts monitor patients to reduce this risk.