Utah Cancer Control Program A Unified Cancer Prevention Approach

Patient Information

Everyone is at risk for cancer, but people with personal or family history of certain cancers may be at higher risk than the general population.


Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (BRCA1/2)

BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) are genes that normally protect people from getting certain cancers. Women who inherit a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have an increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. Men who inherit a mutation are at risk for prostate cancer and breast cancer. Both men and women are also at risk for pancreatic cancer and melanoma. BRCA1/2 mutations are more likely to be present in families with a strong history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. Knowing whether or not a woman has a BRCA1/2 mutation can help her make important decisions which can reduce her risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer in the future.

People interested in finding out if they should talk to a genetic counselor about their risk for hereditary breast or ovarian cancer should visit knowbrca.org.

Genetic counselor Joyce Turner, MSC, CGC, provides an overview of BRCA genes and their relationship to breast and ovarian cancer.


Lynch Syndrome

People with Lynch Syndrome, sometimes referred to as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer or HNPCC, are much more likely to develop colorectal cancer. Your other blood relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews are also at increased risk of having Lynch Syndrome. Lynch Syndrome is more likely in families where people had colon cancer before age 50, or women had uterine cancer. Knowing whether or not you have Lynch Syndrome can help you make important decisions which can reduce your risk of deeloping cancer in the future.

I tested positive for BRCA1/2 or Lynch Syndrome, now what?

If you are diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome or a BRCA 1/2 mutation, your parents, children, sisters, and brothers have a 50% (1 in 2) chance of having this condition. A positive genetic testing result warrants a conversation with your healthcare provider or a genetics specialist. There are possible risk-reduction or surveillance options to consider. The BRCA Decision tool visually depicts how certain options may impact breast and ovarian cancer risk.


Genetic Testing and Counseling

Genetic tests look at rare inherited mutations which are responsible for some hereditary cancers including breast, ovarian, colorectal and uterine. These tests are often done using a blood sample or cheek swab.

Cancer genetic specialist Cecelia Bellcross, Ph.D., M.S., C.G.C., explains the basic criteria that would warrant a genetic test.

If you have a personal or family history of breast, ovarian, uterine, or colon cancer, you may be at higher risk for developing one of those cancers yourself. Genetic counseling can help provide risk assessment services and discuss any potential genetic testing options. Talk to your healthcare provider or a genetics specialist if you are unsure of whether or not you may be at higher risk.


What is genetic counseling?

Genetic counseling is a process where someone specially trained in genetics:

  • Reviews a person’s family health history
  • Discusses with the person whether or not they should consider the genetic testing process
  • Facilitates the genetic testing process
  • Explains the possible genetic testing outcomes
  • Explains risk reduction options
  • Discusses any fears or concerns a person may have regarding genetic testing
Individuals with a strong family history, or with a personal history of breast, ovarian, uterine, or colon cancer, may want to meet with a genetic counselor to find out if genetic testing is right for them.

Jeri Harashima, MS LCGC, a Genetics Counselor from Intermountain Medical Center Oncology Genetics Clinic explains the genetics of breast cancer in this ABC4 Utah interview.

How can I find a genetic counselor?

    Huntsman Cancer Institute
    • Salt Lake City, UT (Huntsman Cancer Hospital)


    • South Jordan, UT (South Jordan Health Center)


    Intermountain Healthcare
    • American Fork, UT (American Fork Hospital)


    • Murray, UT (Intermountain Medical Center)


    • Provo, UT (Utah Valley Regional Medical Center)


    • Logan UT (Logan Regional Hospital)


    • Ogden, UT (McKay Dee Hospital)


    • St. George, UT (Dixie Regional Medical Center)


    Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)

    (Service limited to eligible Veterans)

    • Salt Lake City, UT

      801-582-1565 x4896

      1-800-613-4012 x4896

    Go Back