Cancer Genetics

The Center for Cancer Risk Assessment provides comprehensive genetic counseling and testing services for those who may be at increased risk of hereditary cancer.
Request an Appointment Request a Remote Second Opinion

Talk to an access nurse today 877-726-5130

Overview

Our team helps to identify families that may have a hereditary cancer syndrome and, when indicated, provides genetic testing, screening and support. Our certified and licensed genetic counselors are experienced in helping patients gather the information they need to make informed healthcare decisions. We offer hereditary cancer risk assessment, education and genetic testing across a variety of specialty clinics.

Speaking with trained and qualified genetic counselors is of critical importance. Here at Mass General we understand that value and have a significant presence of genetic counselors in cancer to ensure that the right test is administered to the right person at the right time. And, importantly, to ensure that the test results are interpreted accurately and tailored to each patient. Having accurate data and applying it correctly to treatment decisions is of the utmost importance to Mass General. Making sure that you have the best information and can participate in making intelligent, informed decisions is our mission.

Convenient, Multidisciplinary Care

CCRA patients have access to all of the resources of Mass General Hospital, which means a multidisciplinary team of specialists is available to manage every aspect of your care. If you learn you have a genetic predisposition to cancer, your options for care may include:

    • Ongoing surveillance and monitoring
    • Immediate action and treatment at the appropriate time
    • Prophylactic surgery, care and follow-up
    • Genetic counseling and testing for family members
    • Access to the Mass General Fertility Center's Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis Program

In this video, learn more about the Center for Cancer Risk Assessment and find out what it means to have an inherited risk for cancer.

You can also view Answers to Genetic Testing and Genetic Counseling FAQs, by our expert team of Certified Genetic Counselors.

Developing Better Therapies through Research

Like all treatment centers within the Cancer Center, our program is highly involved in research. We lead and participate in studies to develop a better understanding of the genetic causes of several cancer syndromes as well as studies to advance cancer treatment and screenings.

 

 

Meet the Team

Co-Directors

Meet the Genetic Counselors Team

Patient Education

Genetic Testing Frequently Asked Questions:

Answers to Genetic Testing and Genetic Counseling FAQs, by our expert team of Certified Genetic Counselors.

Learn more about the Center for Cancer Risk Assessment clinics:

Breast and Ovarian Cancer Genetics and Risk Assessment Clinic
helps to identify families that may have a hereditary breast and/or ovarian cancer syndrome and, when indicated, offer genetic testing, cancer screening and support.

Endocrine Tumor Genetics Clinic
helps to identify families that may have a hereditary risk for endocrine tumors and, when indicated, offer genetic testing, screening and support.

Familial Renal Cell Carcinoma and von Hippel-Lindau Disease Clinic
helps to identify families that may have a hereditary renal (kidney) cancer syndrome and, when indicated, offer genetic testing, screening and support.

Gastrointestinal Cancer Genetics Clinic
helps identify families that may have a hereditary colon or gastrointestinal cancer syndrome and, when indicated, offer genetic testing, cancer screening and support.

Melanoma Genetics Clinic
helps to identify families that may have a hereditary melanoma syndrome and, when indicated, offer genetic testing, cancer screening and support.

Neuro-Oncology Genetics Clinic
offers genetic counseling and testing for patients with neurofibromatosis (NF1, NF2, schwannomatosis) as well as those with strong personal and family histories of cancers of the central nervous system.

Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic
help to identify families that may have a hereditary predisposition to prostate cancer and, when indicated, offer genetic testing, cancer screening and support.

In this video, learn more about the Center for Cancer Risk Assessment and find out what it means to have an inherited risk for cancer.

You can also view Answers to Genetic Testing and Genetic Counseling FAQs, by our expert team of Certified Genetic Counselors.

Resources

Resources at Mass General Cancer Center

  • Wellness and Support Programs
    Our support programs are designed to help patients, their families and caregivers cope with the challenges of a cancer diagnosis. We offer a wide range of integrative therapies, workshops and support groups. On this page you will find complete listings of our upcoming program offerings.
  • The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Program
    The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.
  • The Marjorie E. Korff Parenting At a Challenging Time (PACT) ProgramThe Marjorie E. Korff PACT program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides psycho-educational support for parents who are patients.

Outside Support Groups

  • FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered)
    FORCE is the only national nonprofit organization devoted to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Their mission includes support, education, advocacy, awareness, and research specific to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. 
  • Be Bright Pink
    Bright Pink is a national non-profit organization that provides education and support to young women who are at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer. They arm young women with knowledge, options and a great attitude, and offer companionship and empathy during their journey. 
  • VHLA (von Hippel-Lindau Alliance)
    The VHL Alliance provides information for families and physicians about this disorder and local self-help support groups for families affected with VHL. Local family support chapters exist in regions of the U.S. Local chapter meetings are scheduled periodically. International VHL Support Organizations are established on six continents.
  • No Stomach For Cancer
    No Stomach For Cancer is a non-profit organization, established to provide Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer families with education and support, while helping to advance research into HDGC diagnosis, screening, treatment, and prevention.
  • Lynch Syndrome International
    Lynch Syndrome International (LSI) provides information and assistance to individuals with Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer, also known as HNPCC or Lynch syndrome. LSI works to promote education regarding cancer surveillance and screening, while also providing patients with local resources.
  • Hereditary Colon Cancer Takes Guts
    The Hereditary Colon Cancer Foundation is a nonprofit organization serving the hereditary colorectal cancer community. They provide resources for patients and healthcare providers on a comprehensive website.

General Information

News, Updates and Events

Save the Date!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Pancreatic Cancer: Your Family, Genes, and Cancer Risk

Simches Research Center, 3rd Floor | Charles River Plaza
185 Cambridge Street | Boston

Join the Center for Cancer Risk Assessment (CCRA) for a free conference for patients and families to learn about the most recent updates in hereditary cancer risk assessment for pancreatic cancer from experts in the field.

Check back soon for more details.


January 2019

Updated risk assessment guidelines for hereditary prostate cancer.

Recent studies have uncovered important new information about hereditary prostate cancer highlighting the value of offering genetic testing to men with prostate cancer.

One important study (Prichard et. al, 2016) showed that about 12% of men with metastatic prostate cancer carry mutations in genes involved with DNA repair. The study not only revealed new hereditary prostate cancer genes, but also demonstrated that hereditary prostate cancer may be more common than previously understood.

Additional studies have defined the features of hereditary prostate cancer including: metastatic prostate cancer, high-grade prostate cancer (Gleason score of 7 or higher), and men with prostate cancer who also have a family history of breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate or other cancers. This has led to a better understanding of which men are most likely to have a hereditary predisposition to prostate cancer and should be offered genetic testing.

There are several reasons why men with prostate cancer may benefit from genetic testing. First, the results of genetic testing can guide decision-making related to the prostate cancer treatment. Next, results could uncover that the patient is at increased risk for other cancer types and would benefit from additional cancer screenings. Finally, the results of genetic testing can have important medical implications for family members. With this new evidence, many insurance companies cover the cost of genetic testing.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) now recommends that anyone with metastatic prostate cancer be referred for genetic counseling and consider to the option of genetic testing.

Given the large number of patients with prostate cancer who could benefit from genetic counseling and testing, the MGH Center for Cancer Risk Assessment established the Hereditary Prostate Cancer Clinic in 2017, under the leadership of Dr. Matthew Smith, Oncologist and Director of the Genitourinary Malignancies Program in the MGH Cancer Center. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a genetic counselor to discuss the option of genetic testing in more detail, please contact the Center for Cancer Risk Assessment at 617-724-1971.


April 2018

Direct to Consumer (DTC) genetic testing: What to know and where to go?

Gifted an at-home genetic test during the holidays and now want to know more about your results? Ancestry and other at-home DNA testing services can be fascinating tools to learn more about yourself and your family, but the information can also be complex. It's important to consider that many at-home DNA tests are different from most clinical tests and, therefore, should not be used for clinical management without consulting a genetics professional. Here at MGH, our team specializes in the genetics of cancer risk for those who have a personal and/or family history of cancer, but there are genetic counselors who routinely provide consultations for DTC-related inquiries. We are always happy to put individuals in contact with the most appropriate providers for learning about their results.

If you have done or are considering an at-home DNA test, below are some resources that might address some of the unique questions that can arise regarding DTC testing:


January 2018

1st Annual CCRA Patient Symposium Was a Success!

On Saturday, November 18, 2017 we were thrilled to hold our first annual CCRA Patient Symposium here at Massachusetts General Hospital. For the inaugural symposium, our topic focused on pancreatic cancer. From hereditary risk factors to upcoming treatments and screening methods, our talented and insightful speakers gave the most recent updates in this field. Thank you to the 100+ patients and family members who registered and helped make this conference a great success! It was wonderful to see so many patients, providers, and researchers come together to learn with us.

This year’s event will take place on Saturday, November 3, 2018. View more details here.


October 2017

Help support the LFSA!

Please consider supporting Carly Grant, one of our genetic counselors, as she trains for her October 8th marathon and raises money for the Li-Fraumeni Syndrome Association (LFSA). The MGH Cancer Genetics team helps many people with Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a cancer predisposition syndrome that affects both children and adults. Our team is committed to finding new ways of providing support to LFS families, raising awareness and funding critical research. Carly’s fundraising campaign will contribute to these efforts, and we wish her the best of luck. More information about Carly’s efforts, and information on donating, can be found here.


August 2017

Please Join Our Fundraising Efforts!

The CCRAcers are fundraising for the Everyday Amazing Race to support the MGH Cancer Center! On September 10th, genetic counselors from the Center for Cancer Risk Assessment (CCRA) and their families will be participating in the 5K run, the 2K walk, and even the Kids’ Dash! You can donate to our team here and help us meet our goal.

If you’d like to join the CCRAcers, or make your own team, register for the Everyday Amazing Race now!


Contact

Center for Cancer Risk Assessment
55 Fruit Street, YAW 10B
Boston, Massachusetts  02114
Tel: 617-724-1971
Fax: 617-726-9418

Request an Appointment Request a Remote Second Opinion

Talk to an access nurse today 877-726-5130

Back to Top