Sometimes hereditary or genetic factors can increase your risk for cancer.  City of Hope’s Cancer Screening and Prevention Programsm is designed to help you understand more about your personal cancer risks.  Armed with this knowledge, you can learn how to minimize your risks and stop cancer from developing.  Start here to see how you can do your part to outsmart cancer.

City of Hope's Cancer Screening and Prevention Programsm offers a comprehensive cancer risk assessment that focuses on family history and genetics, taking into account environmental and lifestyle factors. Following this assessment, the program provides concrete steps you can take to mitigate these risks and help prevent cancer from developing.

Get a comprehensive assessment with a genetic counselor to determine hereditary or genetic risks for the development of cancer. If indicated, patients can choose to use genetic testing to assist with identifying cancer-prevention strategies. Call 626-218-8662 for more information.

Key indicators of hereditary cancer

Many people believe that cancer strikes randomly, but that’s not always true. Sometimes hereditary or genetic factors increase an individual’s risk for cancer. Recent research clearly indicates a link between genes and cancer.

This link is often strongest in families where:

  •   Cancer occurs at a much younger age than average
  •   Cancer occurs in several close relatives
  •   More than one type of cancer occurs in the same close relative
  •   Cancer occurs in paired organs (i.e. cancer in both breasts)
  •   Cancer occurs in more than one generation
  •   Several rare cancers occur in a family

While some common types of cancer such as breast, ovarian, colorectal or prostate cancer may or may not be inherited, other types of cancer (usually much rarer), are almost always inherited, such as medullary thyroid cancer.

Genetic cancer risk assessment

Although an immediate family history may not suggest an obvious pattern of hereditary cancer, there can still be risk factors discoverable in an extended family history.  Small families may have fewer cases of cancer, or generations may be "skipped" if the cancer expression is sex-limited (meaning a certain kind of cancer only appears in one sex, such as ovarian cancer or prostate cancer).  Ethnic origin of your ancestors also may play a role in determining whether cancer could be hereditary.

Establishing a frame of reference

In order to determine the best course of action in assessing cancer risk, City of Hope develops a basic frame of reference. This involves obtaining an accurate family history regarding the occurrence of cancer(s) in you, your immediate and extended family – your children, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides. The type of cancer and the age of onset are extremely important in gathering this information.

Initial screening criteria for patients who should have genetic cancer risk

In the assessment, we look at the number of your relatives with cancer, the closeness of their biological relationship to you, and the specific types of cancer in your family.  For more specific information on who should be referred for genetic cancer risk assessment, please see our guidelines .

Care Team

City of Hope’s renowned physicians and researchers utilize the latest in technology and innovation to treat cancer, coupled with our enduring belief in providing unparalleled compassionate care.

Clinical Genetics

Thomas P. Slavin, M.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Clinical Genetics
  • Medical Genetics
  • Molecular Diagnostics
Jeffrey Weitzel, M.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Clinical Genetics
  • Clinical Cancer Genetics
  • Genetic testing is a powerful tool, and raises many important issues for individuals and their families.
  • Ashkenazi Jewish Heritage - Two specific mutations in the BRCA1 gene and one mutation in the BRCA2 gene occur predominately in persons of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Having a BRCA mutation predisposes women to breast and ovarian cancer. 

Research studies
Ongoing research studies are a vital part of City of Hope's Cancer Screening and Prevention Program's commitment to combating cancer. We will inform you about available studies and eligibility to participate, which is entirely voluntary and will not affect your care in any way.

Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is the largest Jewish membership organization in the United States. Hadassah’s educational programs cover concerns relating to the science of genetics, counseling/psychosocial issues, discrimination and ethics from a Jewish perspective.

The American Jewish Congress - The Congress’ Commission for Women's Equality supports federal and state legislative campaigns to protect genetic privacy and prohibit genetic discrimination in insurance and employment.

Sharsheret provides resources and support for young Jewish women, of all backgrounds, facing breast cancer.




We deliver exquisite care at the leading edge of cancer treatment. It takes the help of a lot of caring people to make hope a reality for our patients. City of Hope was founded by individuals' philanthropic efforts over 100 years ago. Their efforts - and those of our supporters today - have built the foundation for the care we provide and the research we conduct. It enables City of Hope to strive for new breakthroughs and better therapies - helping more people enjoy longer, better lives.

For more information on supporting this specific program, please contact:

Janet Morgan
Senior Development Officer
Phone: 626-218-6250
Email: [email protected]

Or, you can Donate Now to make a gift to support all the research at City of Hope.

City of Hope experts cover prevention and screening on City of Hope’s Breakthrough’s blog.

Back To Top