Research shows a small percentage of cancers – between 5 and 10 percent – are passed down from parent to child through inherited gene mutations. Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida provides genetic counseling and genetic testing to help individuals and families with possible inherited gene mutations understand their risk for hereditary cancer.
What does it mean to have an inherited gene mutation?
Genes pass on characteristics of our parents. They are made of DNA – a code of instructions found in every cell that tells our bodies how to develop and function.
When the DNA code is in order, it sends the right messages so our bodies function as they should. Sometimes, though, parts of the code change – called genetic mutations. Some of these mutations are trivial, but others can affect your health.
Genetic mutations can develop because of environmental factors like radiation exposure, or they can be inherited (passed down from parent to child through DNA). Geneticists know of several inherited gene mutations associated with cancer. While having an inherited gene mutation doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop cancer, it does mean your risk for developing cancer is greater.
How can genetic counseling help me?
Your doctor may refer you to Miami Cancer Institute for genetic counseling if you have a personal or family history of a hereditary cancer. Genetic counseling can help you assess your risk and determine whether genetic testing is appropriate for you.
Our specialists will talk to you about your concerns and family history and share information about preventive screenings, risk reduction and clinical trials, which may help you lower your risk.
If it’s determined that genetic testing would benefit you, we will discuss your testing options, the benefits and limitations of genetic testing, and the implications of the results with you before you undergo any tests. It’s important to fully understand the implications of genetic testing before you have any testing done. Our specialists will provide all the information you need to make a confident decision and will answer any questions you may have.
What can I expect from genetic testing?
Genetic testing is done on a small sample of tissue or body fluid, such as blood or saliva. It looks for specific inherited gene mutations in your chromosomes, genes or proteins that predispose you to certain hereditary cancers. Your testing is performed by genetic specialists at the Institute. Once your test results are available, they will discuss them with you and your referring physician and provide follow-up counseling to help you make decisions about your future healthcare.