Hereditary Cancer Program (HCP) Overview

Does breast or ovarian cancer run in your family? Advancements in medicine have discovered certain risk factors that may influence an individual’s chance of developing these and other cancers. Knowing your risk can empower you and your family members to make better, more informed decisions about your health. Your decisions can lead to earlier cancer detection and prevention to change your future.

If you're concerned about your risk for breast, ovarian, or other cancers, you can schedule an evaluation with the Hereditary Cancer Program (HCP).

The HCP provides the following services:

  • Cancer risk assessment based on personal risk factors and family history
  • Genetic counseling and testing
  • Education about your risk of developing cancer and potential implications for family members
  • Personalized surveillance plans
  • Cancer prevention strategies and planning
  • A clinical breast exam and referrals for other screening tests
  • Navigation support to provide streamlined access to physician specialists, hospital resources, support groups, and research opportunities

For more information about the Hereditary Cancer Program, or to schedule an appointment, call our Program Coordinator, Iris Fietko, at 312.355.3248.

Who Might Benefit

Individuals who have been diagnosed with any of the following, or who are cancer free but have close family members diagnosed with any of the following, may benefit from an appointment with the HCP:

  • Breast cancer at an age less than 50
  • Triple Negative Breast Cancer at any age
  • Two or more breast cancers in a family, one under age 50
  • Three or more breast cancers in a family at any age
  • Male breast cancer at any age
  • Ovarian cancer at any age
  • Two primary breast cancers or bilateral breast cancer in an individual at any age
  • Personal or family history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer or pancreatic cancer at any age
  • Individuals with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and even one case of breast, ovarian, or pancreatic cancer in themselves or close family members
  • Personal or family history of breast cancer with thyroid cancer and/or endometrial cancer at any age
  • Personal or family history of sarcoma, osteosarcoma, adrenocortical cancer, brain tumors, or leukemia/lymphoma at any age
  • Personal or family history of a known mutation (BRCA1/2, TP53, PTEN, etc.) for a cancer predisposition syndrome
  • Patients with previous genetic test results (whether negative or variant of uncertain significance) who may still have an increased cancer risk based on personal or family history
  • Personal history of biopsy-proven atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH) or lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
  • Personal history of chest wall radiation (for example, in treatment for Hodgkin's disease) between ages 10 and 30

* Family history should be all on the same side of the family, i.e. either maternal or paternal.
* Family history includes first, second and third degree relatives (siblings, parents, children, aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews, cousins, grandparents)
* Breast cancer includes invasive disease and ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

Is Breast Cancer Hereditary

The following information can help us determine your genetic risk for breast, ovarian, and other related cancers:

  • Your personal health history
  • Your family history, including both individuals with and without cancer
  • Genetic testing, such as that for BRCA1 and BRCA2

The experts at the Hereditary Cancer Program will conduct a brief cancer risk assessment to:

  • Evaluate your risk for breast, ovarian, and other related cancers based on personal factors and family medical history
  • Help you understand how various factors influence your cancer risks
  • Provide information on things that you can do to help reduce that risk

Breast Cancer Genetic Testing and Counseling

Researchers have identified certain genes that, when changed, increase your risk for developing breast, ovarian, and other related cancers. Our genetic counselor can help you better understand your risk for hereditary cancers.

At your visit, our genetic counselor will:

  • Review your family medical history and create your pedigree (family tree)
  • Assess and explain your risk for hereditary cancers and risk to other family members
  • Outline personalized medical management options for cancer detection and prevention, including screening and surgery
  • Determine what genetic testing might be helpful, and how likely you are to have a mutation identified through this testing
  • Discuss the benefits and limitations of genetic testing
  • Interpret genetic test results and explain what they mean to you and your family (typically in a follow-up visit)
  • Provide psychological support in processing the emotional and behavioral effects of hereditary cancer risk

Genetic counselors help people make informed decisions about genetic testing and follow-up care. A genetic counseling appointment can even benefit individuals who decide not to pursue genetic testing.

Genetic information may help you:

  • Learn if you or other family members have an increased likelihood of developing certain cancers
  • Understand the cancer in your family and discover if inherited factors have contributed to yours or a family member's cancer
  • Create a personal cancer risk reduction plan if you are at increased risk
  • Determine treatment plans for those who have a cancer diagnosis
  • Provide peace of mind if you are not at increased risk for cancer

Breast Cancer Screening Tests

If you are at an increased risk for developing breast cancer, it is important to have regular breast screening. Even for women who may feel completely healthy, screening can detect early signs of breast cancer. Catching breast cancer early is important because that is when it is most treatable.

Breast cancer screening tests may include:

Clinical breast exams - A thorough physical examination of the breasts performed by a health care specialist.
Mammogram - An imaging test used to screen for breast cancer in women of all risk levels.
Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - An imaging test used to screen for breast cancer in women with a high-risk of breast cancer. An MRI is often performed in addition to a mammogram.

Our Team

Kent Hoskins, MD
Dr. Kent Hoskins is a medical oncologist specializing in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. He has been involved in research on hereditary cancer and clinical care of women with inherited risk of breast and ovarian cancer since 1994. He established the Hereditary Breast Cancer Program at the University of Illinois Hospital to provide comprehensive care for individuals and families with hereditary cancer risks. An HCP consultation with Dr. Hoskins includes the development of personalized programs for cancer risk reduction.

Lara Balay, MS, Ed, MS CGC
Senior Genetic Counselor
UI Health Hereditary Cancer Program
Department of Medicine — Hematology/Oncology

Tara Maga, PhD, MS, CGC
Senior Genetic Counselor
UI Health Hereditary Cancer Program
Department of Medicine — Hematology/Oncology

Scheduling Your Appointment

Call Iris Fietko, our Program Coordinator, at 312.355.3248 with any questions or to schedule an appointment with the Hereditary Cancer Program.

Physicians who would like to refer their patients for an appointment can either call the number above or fax a referral, along with the following, if available, to 312.413.5290:

  • Medical records
  • Copy of insurance card (front and back)
  • Pathology, laboratory, and radiology reports
  • Family history information
  • Genetic test results

Our Program Coordinator will call your patient directly to schedule an appointment.

Our Location

UI Health Outpatient Care Center
1818 W. Taylor St., Suite 1E
Chicago, Illinois 60612