In some cases, hereditary or genetic factors may increase the risk of developing cancer. City of Hope’s Cancer Screening & Prevention ProgramSM is designed to help you understand more about your personal cancer risks.

We offer 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 lower these risks.

To get a comprehensive assessment, please call 800-826-HOPE (4673).

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.

Testing is only one of the methods used to estimate cancer risk

Counseling and testing is a multistep process that begins with assessing cancer risk based on personal factors and family history. This process also includes education and counseling to help understand risk, the usefulness and limitations of genetic testing and other means to assess risk, and individualized options for early detection and risk-reduction strategies. If testing is appropriate and desired, a small blood sample is drawn for analysis. A confidential test result is typically available within two to three weeks. Test results are disclosed in person at a follow-up visit.

Research studies

Ongoing research studies are a vital part of City of Hope's Cancer Screening & 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.