Patients at increased familial risk of cancer are sub-optimally identified and referred for genetic counseling. We describe a systematic model for information collection, screening and referral for hereditary cancer risk. Individuals from three different clinical and research populations were screened for hereditary cancer risk using a two-tier process: a 7-item screener followed by review of family history by a genetic counselor and application of published criteria. A total of 869 subjects participated in the study; 769 in this high risk population had increased familial cancer risk based on the screening questionnaire. Of these eligible participants, 500 (65.0 %) provided family histories and 332 (66.4 %) of these were found to be at high risk of a hereditary cancer syndrome, 102 (20.4 %) at moderate familial cancer risk, and 66 (13.2 %) at average risk. Three months following receipt of the risk result letter, nearly all respondents found the process at least somewhat helpful (98.4 %). All participants identified as high-risk were mailed a letter recommending genetic counseling and were provided appointment tools. After 1 year, only 13 (7.3 %) of 179 high risk respondents reported pursuit of recommended genetic counseling. Participants were willing to provide family history information for the purposes of risk assessment; however, few patients pursued recommended genetic services. This suggests that cancer family history registries are feasible and viable but that further research is needed to increase the uptake of genetic counseling.
- Family history
- Genetic counseling