Hereditary Cancer & Genetics: Genetic Testing & Counseling at Memorial Sloan Kettering

Pictured: Megan Harlan Fleischut & Kenneth Offit Genetic counselor Megan Harlan Fleischut and Clinical Genetics Service Chief Kenneth Offit help people understand their risk for cancer — key information for making medical decisions.

Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Clinical Genetics Service offers hereditary cancer risk assessment, genetic counseling, and genetic testing by specially trained genetic counselors and physicians. If you are concerned about your personal or family history of cancer, our team of experts can help you make medical decisions about how to manage your risk.

Would Genetic Counseling Be Helpful for Me?

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, genetic counseling may be useful for you:

  • Have you or a close relative been diagnosed with cancer at an early age?
  • Do you have more than one blood relative with the same type of cancer? If yes, is the same type of cancer found in more than one generation?
  • Has anyone in your family had more than one type of cancer, not counting basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers?
  • Some organs, such as the breast, kidney, and eye, come in pairs. Has anyone in your family had cancer on both sides of a pair of organs?
  • Are you related to someone who is known to have an inherited mutation that can cause cancer?

Genetic counseling is typically recommended for individuals who are diagnosed with cancer at a very young age and for families with multiple cases of cancer. If you are interested in learning about your hereditary risk for cancer, we encourage you to schedule an appointment.

What Can I Expect from Genetic Counseling?

We offer information about genetic risk in a number of ways, including online group sessions, telemedicine consultations, and individual meetings with a counselor and a physician. You may meet with a counselor at our main office in Manhattan or at any of our regional sites.

Your initial genetic counseling session will focus on questions and concerns about your or your family's risk for cancer. We will tell you about the scientific concepts that relate to genetic testing to help you decide which genetic tests, if any, might be useful for you. Our goal is to provide clear and relevant information about genetic risk factors in a supportive and educational environment.

As part of a genetic counseling session you will have the opportunity to discuss:

  • Your individual cancer risk assessment
  • The latest advances in cancer genetics
  • Personalized cancer screening recommendations and referrals
  • The risks, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing
  • Options for reproductive planning based on genetic testing
  • Referrals to clinicians who can provide psychological counseling for those who need assistance in coping with the challenges that may arise from genetic counseling and testing
  • Options for participating in research taking place at Memorial Sloan Kettering

In addition, our staff can help you answer the following questions:

  • Will the information I receive during a genetic counseling session help in the prevention or early detection of hereditary cancer?
  • If I am at an increased risk for cancer, what is the risk to my family?
  • If I choose to undergo genetic testing, how will the confidentiality of my results be protected?
  • Is there a chance of employment or insurance discrimination because of genetic testing for cancer risk?
  • If my genetic test is positive, can doctors use the results to prevent the mutation from being passed on to children I may have in the future?
  • Am I eligible to receive genetic testing as part of a clinical research study?
  • What are the options for medical insurance coverage or reimbursement for genetic counseling and genetic testing?

Our experts will approach your specific concerns with sensitivity and support.

Should I Undergo Genetic Testing?

Genetic testing is not the right choice for everyone. Your personality, your coping style, and your family's experience with cancer may influence your decisions about whether to have a genetic test.

For many people, a cancer risk assessment can be provided through genetic counseling alone, without the use of genetic tests. However, in some cases, testing may help you and your physician make important decisions about your medical care.

Deciding whether to have genetic testing is a personal choice that can be made at the time of your genetic counseling session or at a future date.

How Can I Schedule an Appointment?

For more information about Memorial Sloan Kettering's Clinical Genetics Service and to schedule a consultation, please call us at 646-888-4050. We are located at 222 East 70th Street. Learn more about planning your visit.