The Breast Center at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center provides high-quality, comprehensive diagnostic care and treatment for benign (non-cancerous) breast conditions and breast cancer. To learn more about evaluation and screening options for individuals at high risk for breast cancer, please visit the Breast Center website.

As part of the Breast Center, genetic counseling is available to individuals with a personal or family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer that is suggestive of a hereditary cancer predisposition. There are several features of a family history that raise the suspicion of a hereditary breast or ovarian cancer syndrome:

  • A personal or family history of early-onset breast cancer (<45 years of age at time of diagnosis)
  • A personal or family history of ovarian cancer at any age
  • A personal history of two or more breast cancers
  • A personal history of breast and ovarian cancer
  • A personal history of breast cancer at any age and at least one close family member with breast or ovarian cancer
  • A family history of two or more close family members with breast or ovarian cancer

An initial cancer genetic counseling session typically lasts one hour. During this session, a genetic counselor will ask detailed questions about your personal medical history and the medical history of your family members. The family tree (pedigree) is a useful tool for determining the likelihood that the cancer in the family is due to a hereditary cancer predisposition gene. The session will include a discussion of cancer genetics and the purpose of genetic testing, including advantages and disadvantages of pursuing genetic testing. Other topics that are often discussed in the initial session include potential genetic discrimination concerns and current legal protections, risks to other family members and screening recommendations.

If an individual decides to pursue genetic testing, a genetic counselor will help facilitate the testing. Follow-up appointments are often necessary to discuss the genetic test results and typically last up to 30 minutes.

Visit our patient education page to learn about basic genetics principles and for information about specific hereditary cancer predisposition syndromes.

To schedule an appointment with a genetic counselor, please call 781-744-3982.