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Genetic Counseling  

Genetic Counseling Program at Baylor

Researchers are constantly making advances into understanding and detecting links between specific genetic alteration, or mutations, and the higher risk for developing certain types of cancer, heart disease or other conditions. These mutations and the associated risks can be passed through families. Knowing this information can lead to increased screening and monitoring of patients at higher genetic risk, to potentially diagnose these conditions early, when they are most easily treated. This information can also provide many with options to reduce their risk of developing the disease.

The Genetic Counseling Program at Baylor offers specially trained genetic counselors to help assess an individual’s likelihood of having an increased risk to develop certain types of cancer, heart disease or other conditions. The genetic counselor works with each patient to discuss possible appropriate action if an alteration is revealed. Counseling and testing for the patient and appropriate family members is recommended if a genetic mutation is detected.


Patients who are most appropriate for genetic counseling are generally those with a strong personal or family history of disease.


As an example, those with a strong personal or family history of cancer would include:

  • Cancer at a young age of diagnosis
  • Multiple types of cancer in one individual
  • Rare forms of cancer
  • A family history of similar cancers

Those with a current cancer diagnosis may be tested to most appropriately treat the particular disease. Many types of cancers may have a genetic link; some of the most common types include:

  • Breast – individuals with personal and/or family history of breast or other cancers
  • Gastrointestinal – individuals with personal and/or family history of colorectal or other cancers
  • Gynecological – individuals with an increased risk of ovarian, endometrial or other cancers
  • Melanomas – individuals with multiple melanomas or a family history of melanoma
  • Endocrine – individuals with multiple endocrine tumors, medullary thyroid cancer or rare tumors called pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas

For appropriate patients, genetic counselors on staff at Baylor will review personal and family medical information and construct and analyze a medical family tree (pedigree). They will calculate a risk assessment and perform specialized genetic testing when indicated. If a patient tests positive for a genetic mutation that could lead to disease, counselors discuss guidelines for continued monitoring and screening, prevention options, inheritance patterns, education about research opportunities and a report interpreting their test results.


Download the Hereditary Cancer Risk Program questionnaire.


For more information about the Genetic Counseling Program at Baylor or to schedule an appointment, please call 1.800.4BAYLOR.