Family history and cancer risk

What are family cancer clinics?

While most cases of cancer are not due to a history of cancer in the family, for a small number of people, their family history suggests they may have a genetic risk. This means their chance of developing cancer could be higher than the average population.

Familial or family cancer centres help support people who are worried about their risk of developing cancer due to their family history, Services include counselling, medical advice, research opportunities and information. They also provide genetic testing where appropriate.

Ask your GP about your risk and if you need a referral to a family cancer clinic.

Learn more about genetics and cancer risk

Getting a referral

For most family cancer centres you will need a referral from your General Practitioner (GP) to access the service. You can discuss this process with your GP, or you can call the centre directly and ask them about their referral requirements.

Questions to ask about this service

When looking at a service it is important to ask questions about how the service works before you decide to engage with them. Below is a list of questions you might like to ask when enquiring about a service.

Am I eligible?

Do I need a referral?

How much will this cost me?

Is there a wait time?

What services do you offer?

 

Health professionals you might see

When you visit a service there are a range of health professionals you may see. There could also be other health professionals you see at this service that are not included below.

Clinical geneticists

Genetic counsellor

 

Regional Family Cancer Clinics

There are a number of family cancer centres that provide visiting services to regional areas. To find out more speak to your GP about the closest available service.

Tested positive for a cancer gene?

Knowing that you carry a gene that increases your risk of cancer can be stressful. It will mean more frequent medical appointments as well as the emotional stress of knowing you have the gene and that you may have passed it onto your children. Talking about your concerns with someone who ‘has been there before’ may assist.

Cancer Council Victoria’s Gene Connect program matches people with a trained volunteer who has a similar lived-experience and can discuss concerns and share experiences. Conversations are confidential and take place over the phone at a time that suits you.

You can access Gene Connect whether you have just discovered your genetic risk, have taken preventative measures or are considering doing so, or have a cancer diagnosis. For more information call an experienced cancer nurse on 13 11 20 or email askanurse@cancervic.org.au.

More information

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