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Cancer Risk Assessment: What to Expect

Your First Visit

One week before your appointment, one of our genetic counselors will contact you by phone to discuss your personal and family medical history. It is helpful if you gather you and your immediate family members’ medical information in advance of this call. If a family member has had cancer, please collect the following information:

  • Type of cancer
  • Age of diagnosis
  • Current age or cause of death if deceased
  • Did the family member develop a second cancer

While correct and complete information is important to assessing cancer risk, we understand that it may not be possible to obtain all of the details about your family’s history of cancer.

Cancer risk assessment
Genetic counselor Jessica Stoll, MS, CGC, specializes in counseling patients with hereditary gastrointestinal cancer susceptibility syndromes, hereditary pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel disease.

During your first appointment, a team of University of Chicago Medicine experts -- genetic counselors as well as physicians and nurses with expertise in genetics -- will perform a comprehensive evaluation and assessment to determine whether you are at increased risk of cancer, and if so, for which types of cancer. The team may evaluate your family as well. If you have a family history of cancer, your detailed family profile will provide the basis for further recommendations. Team members will identify any possible pattern of inheritance.

Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk

Genetic testing is not required for cancer risk counseling and assessment. However, in some cases results from a genetic test may help you and your physician make important decisions about your care. Undergoing genetic testing is the personal choice of each patient.

Genetic testing involves a simple blood test. The blood sample is then sent to a lab that determines if there is a mutation, or change, in the genes that raises the risk of cancer for a patient and family members.

Risk Reduction Plan

After the team has determined where risks exist, they will develop a personalized risk reduction plan. Risk reduction strategies may include:

  • Careful, systematic monitoring or periodic screening tests for early detection
  • Changes in diet, exercise or other life-style factors
  • Cancer prevention drugs or procedures

Our staff will work with your primary care or referring physician to ensure that your care is seamless. We will help your physician monitor your risk reduction plan. In addition, you may choose to join an ongoing study that will evaluate the effectiveness of the risk reduction strategies that you are following.


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Contact Us

For more information, call Felicia Steverson, Cancer Risk Administrative Coordinator, at (773) 702-1093.