Genetics Program

Mapping Your Health Risks

North Memorial Health’s genetics counseling program provides risk assessment, genetic counseling and genetic testing services for families seeking information about their cancer risk.

Cancer consultation between patient and doctor

Program Overview

Genetic Counseling & Risk Assessment

Some families have a high cancer risk due to inherited genetic factors. Genetic testing can help these families better understand their risk for cancer and determine the screening and prevention efforts that will be most effective.

We understand each family’s situations and needs are unique. The Genetics Program’s Cancer Risk Assessment Clinic at North Memorial Health Cancer Center provides a unique setting for patients and families to discuss genetic concerns and make decisions regarding genetic issues.

Our team is experienced in genetic assessment and testing and our center’s genetic counselors are certified by the American Board of Genetic Counselors (ABGC). Together with North Memorial oncologists, they work with families to assess the likelihood that genetic factors play a role in a family history of cancer. If genetic testing is appropriate, our genetic counselors will discuss genetic testing options and coordinate testing for you. We will also meet with you to review results of genetic testing in person.

We offer the latest in genetics technologies. Our team is available to discuss the latest technology available – including cancer panel genetic testing.  We also offer the unique opportunity for annual genetics follow-up and surveillance programs.

A cancer risk assessment is indicated for:

  • Individuals with a strong family history involving multiple individuals with cancer or with cancer at an early age
  • People considering cancer surgeries or medication to prevent cancer
  • People looking for guidance regarding cancer screening or prevention choices
  • Individuals with heightened concern about their family history of cancer
  • People from families with a known genetic diagnosis that increases cancer risk.

A cancer risk assessment will tell:

  • How likely it is that the pattern of cancer in the family is hereditary
  • Which cancer screening methods are best for a family; for example, some families may need to begin cancer screening earlier or undergo screening more frequently.
  • Whether testing for a cancer gene is appropriate
  • How to best reduce the risk of cancer for an individual or family members.


Cancer risk assessment involves:

  • Reviewing a family history to predict the likelihood of a cancer gene
  • Helping obtain family medical records to clarify the types of cancer
  • Genetic education and counseling
  • Medical consultation with an oncologist
  • Coordination of genetic testing, when appropriate.

Information about Genetics and Cancer

  • Did you know that 10 percent of cancers are due to strong hereditary factors?
  • Cancer risk can be inherited from either side of a family.
  • Within most high-risk families, half of the individuals are not at high risk.
  • Genetic testing may determine who is and who is not at risk within a family.
  • Signs of hereditary cancer include: earlier age onset of cancer, individuals with multiple cancers, and a family pattern of multiple individuals with cancer in multiple generations.
  • Seventy percent of cancers are sporadic and are not due to inherited factors.
  • Increasing age is the biggest risk factor for sporadic cancer.
  • Most cancers occurring after age 60 are not linked with an increased cancer risk for other family members. Some 20 percent of cancers show a clustering within the family.

Family clustering may be due to genetic and/or environmental factors that family members share.

Make An Appointment

If you think you may benefit from a cancer risk assessment, you may wish to discuss this with your physician.

Or, schedule a cancer risk assessment appointment on your own by calling 763-581-2922.