There are a number of reasons why patients are referred to the cancer genetics service. Often this is because they are concerned by the number of their relatives that have been diagnosed with the condition. We also see patients who we know might be at an increased risk of cancer because we have already found a gene change in them or one of their relatives.
Unfortunately cancer is very common. So common in fact that most people have at least one relative who has had a form of cancer. The majority of cancers, more than 90%, occur by chance because of a combination of different factors. This may include some genetic factors but also many environmental factors. Fortunately, it is only in a small percentage of families that there appears to an altered gene passing down through the family which greatly increases a person’s risk of developing cancer.
If you are concerned you may a genetic condition which increases your risk of cancer, we would encourage you to discuss this with one of your healthcare team. They will then decide if you need to be seen by the AWMGS.
Family history questionnaire
If you are referred to the AWMGS because of a family or personal history of cancer, the process is slightly different to being referred to us for other reasons. This is because not everybody will need a clinic appointment.
Unless we already know your family or know the genetic change which has been found in you or one of your family members, we will usually send you a family history questionnaire. This helps us gather as much information as possible about your family and the people who have had cancer. This will help the team to make an assessment of the risk for you and your family, and discuss any screening and/or testing that may be available.