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Helping families assess their hereditary cancer risk

Stanford’s Cancer Genetics Program helps assess families' hereditary cancer risks and guide patients to make informed choices about prevention and treatment.

A cancer diagnosis can be unnerving and frightening, and having a history of the disease can make it even harder on a patient. Stanford’s Cancer Genetics Program aims to help by assessing families' hereditary cancer risks and guiding patients to make informed choices about prevention and treatment.

“When patients find out that not only do they have cancer but they might be at risk for another cancer down the road, or that their children can possibly can be affected by this, [they] can be quite stressed," says Stanford genetic counselor Kerry Kingham in the Stanford Health Care video below. “So that’s one of the things I try to address right away calmly and with compassion — explaining that there’s something we can do about it if we find something.”

The video features two patients — Nicole and Jessica — who were both referred to the program for specialized counseling after their doctors suspected they carried a hereditary cancer. "The hard part of my journey... was finding out who needed to be tested and ruling them out," says Nicole, who was diagnosed with her first cancer at age 12. Her two daughters were found to not have the same genetic risk, and, Nicole says, "to see it end in me... is truly a blessing."

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