Genetic Counseling

Knowing if you carry a gene that causes hereditary cancer can help you take steps to lower your risk for cancer and/or detect it earlier, when it's more treatable.  

Genetic counseling can help you decide if getting tested for hereditary cancers would be beneficial. Mary Valla, our research nurse specialist and genetic liaison, works closely with board-certified genetics specialists from InformedDNA to help you understand if the cancer in your family is hereditary and what you can do about it.

For more information about genetic counseling and the testing process, call Mary at 816.691.5195.

Cancer Triggers

Cancer is typically the result of several factors. When environmental, hereditary and lifestyle factors interact, they can cause genetic changes that result in disease.

With hereditary cancers, a person carries a mutated gene that passes from generation to generation. The mutated gene increases a person's risk for cancer. Families with such gene mutations may have many members with specific cancers. Knowing your family history is the first step toward understanding your risk.

Your Risk

It's not possible to tell without testing if you carry a cancer gene. However, if your family has any of the following characteristics, we recommend exploring genetic testing. 

  • Adult family members who developed cancer before age 50
  • Two or more close relatives such as a mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandparents or children with the same or related cancers (breast and ovarian, colon and endometrial, or melanoma and pancreatic)
  • More than one cancer diagnosis in the same relative
  • Cases of rare cancers or cancer syndromes such as multiple endocrine neoplasia or ataxia telangiectasia


The Cancer Survivorship Center can help with:

  • Creating an overview of your personal and family health history (View the Family History Questionnaire.)
  • Developing a family tree
  • Determining if you and/or your family meet testing criteria
  • Providing pretest education and counseling
  • Evaluating your insurance coverage
  • Providing posttest education/counseling that includes an individualized cancer prevention, risk reduction and screening plan for you and your family

Contact Us

Radiation Oncology

Inpatient Cancer Unit, 5th Floor Hospital

Genetic Liaison

Cancer Rehab and Wellness Center

Outpatient Cancer Center, 5th Floor Hospital