Cancer Genetics Program
Lifespan Cancer Institute

About Genetic Testing for Cancer

What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing involves collection of a sample of body fluid (blood or saliva), which is then tested to look for variants (mutations) in genes that are linked to a heightened risk of cancer. This can be completed if the individual meets the standard criteria and decides that he or she would like to proceed.

Even if someone declines testing, he or she could still benefit from counseling and risk management strategies if there is a clear family history of cancer.

Genetic counselors are licensed professionals with a Master’s degree in genetic counseling. They can counsel patients about inherited cancer syndromes, the degree of risk for that cancer, and the implications of and options for addressing that risk. With counseling, a patient is better able to make decisions regarding genetic testing, as well as screening, prevention, and treatment options as indicated.