Genetics: Approach to Care


The Hereditary Cancer Program at the University of Florida offers hereditary and cancer risk assessment to people who are concerned about their personal and/or family history of cancer. While no one can predict exactly who will develop cancer, there are ways to find out who may be at high risk. The genetic mutation that causes cancer can be inherited from a parent or it can be a random mutation that occurs as a result of a mistake during cell division or in response to environmental factors.

Known cancer risk factors:

  • A person with a “strong” family history of cancer. This means having two or more close family members on the same side of the family with the same or related cancer.
  • A person who had cancer at an early age, who had more than one kind of cancer or who had a close family member with these features.
  • A person from a family that is known to have an inherited cancer syndrome
  • A person with a rare cancer (such as breast cancer in a man or an adrenal gland tumor)

Multidisciplinary Treatment Team 

The Cancer Genetics program is part of the UF Shands Cancer Center. The team is made up of Genetic Counselors and Nurse Specialists who are highly committed to:

  • Providing hereditary and cancer risk assessment to individuals and families with a history of cancer.
  • The pursuit of research that will not only advance understanding of the origin and nature of cancer but that will also lead to novel diagnostic approaches for cancer and improved clinical management of cancer patients.

Comprehensive Patient Care 

During a hereditary and/or cancer risk assessment, you will meet with a genetic counselor or nurse specialist that specializes in cancer genetics. After completing a family medical history, they will evaluate you on how likely it is that you will develop cancer at some time in your life. They will help you understand the role of genes in causing cancer and will also estimate the chance that a risk for cancer might be passed along through the genes in the family. They will also talk about ways you can lower your risk for cancer and ways to find it early when it is most easily treated.

  • Hereditary and cancer risk assessment
  • Patient education and resources
  • Psychological and emotional support