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Cancer Genetics Program

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Genes that lead to certain types of cancer can run in families. Our cancer genetics and high-risk screening clinic helps you understand your risk. Cancer genetic counselors discuss your risks, explain testing options and suggest steps you can take to preserve your health.

A family history of cancer does not mean you will get it. But people at the highest risk for developing cancer are those with hereditary cancer syndromes (gene mutations causing cancer). These individuals will benefit from meeting with our experts to help understand what they need to do to lower this risk.

Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson, helps you understand your risk. We also offer recommendations to optimize your care. We perform appropriate testing for many types of inherited cancers, including breast, colorectal and prostate.

Why choose us for hereditary cancer screening?

Highlights of our program include:

  • Genetic counselors: You receive services from health professionals with advanced training (graduate degrees). Many of our counselors have certification from the American Board of Genetics Counselors. We specialize in cancer, which means we deliver focused services that help you make good care decisions.
  • Personalized advice: We test for the hereditary cancer syndromes that are appropriate for your circumstances. We stay current on genetic testing research, so you’ll have access to the latest, most effective techniques. And our years of experience serving San Antonio and 38 counties in South Texas means we understand the unique needs of the people we serve.
  • Support: We take time to answer your questions before and after testing. Learning about your cancer risk can be overwhelming, and we are here for you with emotional support if needed.
  • Cancer prevention and early detection: If you test positive for a hereditary cancer syndrome, we provide recommendations to lower your risk or detect cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat. Options may include more frequent cancer screenings, such as mammograms to catch early signs of breast cancer. We may also recommend preventive therapies, including surgery. Read more about cancer prevention and screenings.

World-class cancer genetic testing in San Antonio

Partnering with MD Anderson Cancer Center puts the highest level of cancer care within reach — without traveling to Houston. We follow many of the same care guidelines MD Anderson uses, including genetic testing methods for specific types of inherited cancer. We also work with laboratories that maintain high quality standards. You can feel confident that you are receiving appropriate services and care.

More information about cancer genetic testing and counseling

Genetic testing may be right for you if you:

  • Have two or more family members who developed cancer at an early age or had the same type of cancer
  • Have a family history of a hereditary cancer syndrome, including BRCA1- and BRCA2-associated hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome
  • Have a personal history of certain types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer
  • Are Jewish and of eastern or central European (Ashkenazi) descent

We start by providing basic information about genes and cancer. We also discuss your personal and family health history, including cancer or precancerous conditions. We then review the benefits, risks and limitations of testing so you have a better idea of what to expect.

If you wish to proceed, we analyze a sample of your blood for abnormalities (mutations) that may lead to cancer. We explain what the results may mean for your health. And we let you know whether other members of your family might also benefit from testing. 

Many insurance plans cover genetic testing and counseling. Information about your cancer risk remains confidential, meaning that people who are not involved in your care cannot see it. And no one can limit or deny future health care services based on genetic testing results.

Research and clinical trials for cancer screening

We are taking extra steps to reduce the burden of cancer on our community. We are exploring the unique ways cancer is affecting people in South Texas, including high rates of liver cancer. We are also developing methods to help more people who are at high risk get appropriate testing.

Find out more about our cancer research and clinical trials.