At Phoenixville Hospital we have the technology to look closely at a person's DNA for potential genetic problems. The Cancer Risk Assessment Program provides information about an individual's risk of developing cancer. Genetic testing is offered to people with personal or strong family histories to help determine the likelihood that they will develop cancer. Our program also provides education and counseling on the benefits and limitations of genetic testing to help a person make informed decisions. It's just another way we are here for our community.

Hereditary Cancer

The cause of cancer is unknown for some individuals. However, five to 10 percent of cancers occur because of an inherited genetic problem (mutation) which leads to what is called a hereditary cancer syndrome.

These hereditary cancer syndromes can increase risks for various cancers and can also be passed down from generation to generation through the mother’s or father’s side of the family. Knowing your family health history is one important factor in determining the likelihood of having a particular genetic mutation or likelihood of developing a disease in the future.

Risk Factors for Hereditary Cancer Syndromes

Below is a checklist of family history information that may suggest increased cancer risk:

  • Three family members with the same type of cancer or related types of cancer, such as breast and ovarian cancer, colon and uterine cancer, etc.
  • One or more family members with two primary cancers (two original tumors that develop at different sites).
  • Cancers that occur at an earlier age than usual (typically diagnosed under 50).
  • Rare cancers such as medullary thyroid cancer, male breast cancer, sarcoma (cancer of the connective tissue), etc.
  • Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish background and family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

What Should I Expect during a Genetic Counseling Appointment?

  • Review of your medical and family history.
  • Discussion of your specific chances of having a hereditary cancer syndrome.
  • Discussion of the risks and benefits and possible outcomes of genetic testing.
  • Review of insurance coverage and laws to protect against genetic discrimination.
  • With the aid of genetic test results, discussion of your specific chances of developing cancer and a tailored screening or prevention plan.
  • Review of research studies for which you may be eligible.

For more information, please contact Genetic Counselor, Marlene Edmonds, MS, at 610-983-1932 or email