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.
How knowing your results help
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.
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.
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.
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.
How we can help
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.
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.
Participating in a trial or study
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.
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.
The Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic at SCCA team is made up of experts from a variety of specialties within SCCA.
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.
Find care team profiles
Meet the caring, dedicated people who take care of you and your family at SCCA.
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.