Prevention

Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic

At the Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) — among the first of its kind in the U.S. and the only genetics clinic in the Pacific Northwest — we provide expert genetic counseling, testing and oncology review to men like you who may have a higher genetic risk of developing cancer. 

If your testing results show you have a significant gene mutation (change), we can get you the support you need, like matching you to the newest clinical trials and research opportunities. And if you have metastatic prostate cancer, you can receive free genetic testing and counseling through the SCCA-led GENetic Testing for MEN (GENTleMEN) study.

Learn More About the GENTleMEN Study

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. Genetic testing Tests that can be done to see if a person has certain gene changes known to increase cancer risk. Metastatic A metastatic cancer is a cancer that has spread to other areas of the body by way of the lymph system or bloodstream. Mutation Any change in the DNA sequence of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Any change in the DNA sequence of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Mutations can be harmful, beneficial or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; mutations that occur in other types of cells are not inherited. Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases. A mutation is sometimes called a variant.

Telehealth visits are available

At our clinic we have thorough safety measures in place to protect you, your caregivers and our staff. We also understand that sometimes it is not possible to come to an in-person visit. That is why we are pleased to offer telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic if you are eligible. 

We are committed to easing any anxiety around a telehealth visit if this is new for you. Prior to your appointment we will provide detailed instructions to help you familiarize yourself before you meet with your care team.

Call our patient coordinators at (855) 557-0555 and ask if telehealth is an option for you.

How knowing your results helps you

How knowing your results can help you

Some men are born with prostate cancer written into their genes and don’t know it. But having genetic testing to find out if you’ve inherited this risk can give you a clear advantage. 

How? If you already have prostate cancer or develop it in the future, tailored strategies can be used to improve your outcomes. Newer therapies can target the cancer’s weaknesses, which can contribute to better outcomes. And knowing your genetic risk can also help your biological family, who might have the same risk factors, by giving them options to be proactive about their health through cancer screening and/or risk reduction strategies.
 

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. Genetic testing Tests that can be done to see if a person has certain gene changes known to increase cancer risk. 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.
How knowing your results can help your family

If testing shows you have a gene mutation that is linked to inherited cancer risk, your blood relatives might be at higher risk, too. The Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic at SCCA can help refer your family members for genetic counseling and testing, if appropriate. We can also guide them to resources for screening and early cancer prevention.

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. Mutation Any change in the DNA sequence of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Any change in the DNA sequence of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Mutations can be harmful, beneficial or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; mutations that occur in other types of cells are not inherited. Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases. A mutation is sometimes called a variant. 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.
If you have metastatic prostate cancer

Nearly 12 percent of men with advanced prostate cancer carry inherited genes that increase their risk for faster-growing forms of the disease that are more likely to spread. Knowing whether you carry one of these genes may help your physician precisely tailor your prostate cancer treatment. 

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.
“Approximately 1 in 10 men with advanced prostate cancer carries an inherited gene mutation. This can open a unique treatment toolbox to them, offer opportunities for leading-edge clinical trials and research, and may offer a potential lifesaving impact to their blood relatives.”
— Heather Cheng, MD, PhD, Medical Oncologist

Should you be tested? 

You should consider genetic testing if you have metastatic prostate cancer. We also recommend genetic testing and counseling for men with prostate cancer who have:

  • A family history of prostate cancer or several men in your family who have had it 
  • One close family member who has had high-grade, advanced or metastatic prostate cancer
  • A family history of breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer
  • A family member with a known genetic risk factor such as a mutation in BRCA1, BRCA2, ATM, CHEK2, etc.

Men of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry are also considered at high risk of developing prostate cancer and should consider genetic testing.

Genetic testing Tests that can be done to see if a person has certain gene changes known to increase cancer risk. Metastatic A metastatic cancer is a cancer that has spread to other areas of the body by way of the lymph system or bloodstream. Mutation Any change in the DNA sequence of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Any change in the DNA sequence of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Mutations can be harmful, beneficial or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; mutations that occur in other types of cells are not inherited. Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases. A mutation is sometimes called a variant.

How we can help

If you are a current SCCA patient

Talk with your SCCA physician about how genetics may affect your treatment. If you already have prostate cancer or metastatic prostate cancer in addition to one or more of the factors listed in the section above, talk to your physician to find out how knowing your genetic risk factor may help you. 

Metastatic A metastatic cancer is a cancer that has spread to other areas of the body by way of the lymph system or bloodstream.
If you are not a current SCCA patient

If you’d like a second opinion about your diagnosis or genetic risk, call the Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic at SCCA at (855) 557-0555.

What happens at your visit

At your first genetic consultation, you will meet with two providers: a genetic counselor and a medical oncologist. This process takes about two hours.

During your time with the genetic counselor, he or she will carefully review your personal and family medical history. If there is a possible genetic risk, the counselor will discuss the option of genetic testing with you and what your results might mean. 

During your visit with the medical oncologist, you will discuss how genetic testing could affect your cancer treatment plan

If you decide to have genetic testing, we will take a sample of your DNA through a blood draw or a saliva sample, which is sent to a lab for testing. After the results come back, you will meet again with the genetic counselor by phone to go over your results. If you do have a pathogenic genetic mutation, we’ll recommend that you meet with the medical oncologist again for a more in-depth conversation about possible treatment.
 

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. Genetic testing Tests that can be done to see if a person has certain gene changes known to increase cancer risk. Medical oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer in adults using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer in adults using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy. A medical oncologist is often the main health care provider for someone who has cancer. A medical oncologist also gives supportive care and may coordinate treatment given by other specialists. Mutation Any change in the DNA sequence of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Any change in the DNA sequence of a cell. Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment. Mutations can be harmful, beneficial or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; mutations that occur in other types of cells are not inherited. Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases. A mutation is sometimes called a variant. Oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment, such as treating cancer with radiation. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation. Treatment plan A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A treatment plan may also include information about how much the treatment is likely to cost and about regular follow-up care after treatment ends.
“Our patients are my biggest source of inspiration and motivation. I really enjoy working with the population and am constantly inspired by their resilience, eagerness to learn and ability to think about not only themselves, but their family members.”
— Lauren Facchini, MS, CGC, Genetic Counselor

Participating in a trial or study

Clinical trials that may be available to you

Prostate cancers can be slow-growing. They can also be aggressive and more likely to metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body. This makes it challenging to know how aggressive each person’s cancer will be and how best to treat it. 

Research led by scientists from SCCA, the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are discovering new answers. If you have prostate cancer or metastatic prostate cancer, you can receive innovative new therapies that can help you while providing valuable information that can help physicians better prevent, diagnose and treat others who develop prostate cancer. 

View Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials
 

Metastatic A metastatic cancer is a cancer that has spread to other areas of the body by way of the lymph system or bloodstream.
About the SCCA GENTleMEN study

Men who have metastatic prostate cancer can receive free genetic testing and counseling online by enrolling in the GENTleMEN (GENetic Testing for MEN) study. 

Led by Heather Cheng, MD, PhD, director of the Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic at SCCA, the study seeks to remove barriers and improve access to genetic testing and counseling, which aren’t available everywhere and may not always be covered by insurance. 

To participate, you do not need to leave home. You can complete an online questionnaire, then receive a saliva-sampling kit in the mail. Your sample is tested, and if it is positive, you can have access to genetic counseling, including through SCCA.

To learn more about the GENTleMen study or to request a test kit, call (877) 606-GENT (4368) toll-free.

More Information on the Study
 

Genetic testing Tests that can be done to see if a person has certain gene changes known to increase cancer risk. Metastatic A metastatic cancer is a cancer that has spread to other areas of the body by way of the lymph system or bloodstream.

Care team

The Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic at SCCA team is made up of experts from a variety of specialties within SCCA. 

Genetic counselor

This specially trained health care provider helps you understand your risk of a genetic disorder. A genetic counselor can also determine if genetic testing could be helpful for you, based on your personal and family medical and health history. After you have had genetic testing, a genetic counselor can offer information about cancer screening options and steps you can take to help prevent cancer, based on your results. SCCA Genetic Counseling Service providers are all licensed, board-certified genetic counselors.

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. Genetic testing Tests that can be done to see if a person has certain gene changes known to increase cancer risk. 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.
Medical oncologist

This physician oversees a cancer patient’s medicine-based treatments. They recommend medicine-based treatments to match your specific case.

Registered nurse

Your nurse manages your care alongside your physician. They also assist with procedures and treatments. They answer questions and help with a wide range of topics, like how to cope with side effects or get other services you need at SCCA.

Side effects A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some side effects of cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores.
Patient care coordinator

The patient care coordinator will likely be one of the first people you meet when you come to SCCA. They will gather your medical records and family health history and help guide you to the appropriate genetics or prevention care services within SCCA.

Find care team profiles

Meet the caring, dedicated people who take care of you and your family at SCCA.

Heather H. Cheng, MD, PhD
Heather H. Cheng, MD, PhD
Physician
Medical Oncology

Genetic counselor

Lauren Facchini, MS, CGC
Lauren Facchini, MS, CGC

Lauren Facchini provides counseling for a variety of hereditary cancer syndromes. She has a special interest in genitourinary malignancies and focuses on helping patients understand how genetic test results can impact their personal and family’s risk for disease. She is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and licensed by the Washington State Department of Health.