Hereditary Cancer Program

Akron Children's Genetic Center offers a Hereditary Cancer Program for adults who are suspected of having a hereditary cancer syndrome in their families. Read More...

Ward-Melver Catherine
Catherine Ward-Melver, MD
Clinical Geneticist

D'Attoma Julie
Julie D'Attoma, RN
Case Manager, Hereditary Cancer Program; Metabolic Clinic Nurse

Parker Marcie
Marcie Parker, MS, LGC
Licensed Genetic Counselor

Stein Jennifer
Jennifer Stein, MS, LGC
Licensed Genetic Counselor


Meet Our Patients



Hereditary Cancer Program - Overview

Your first visit usually takes 60-90 minutes.  During this time you will meet with a genetic counselor and the nurse, if testing is indicated.

The new patient packet that includes information on what to expect at your appointment and a family history questionnaire should be completed and sent as soon as you schedule your appointment.

Through an assessment of family history and medical records, Akron Children's genetic counselors and physicians can determine who may be at risk for a hereditary predisposition to cancer.

With this information, you and your doctor can develop a plan to reduce your risk of developing these cancers. People who are referred to our hereditary cancer program usually have a personal or family history of cancer, or both.

Our program provides:

  • Evaluation of personal and family history
  • Risk assessment for familial and hereditary cancer syndromes
  • Identification and discussion of genetic testing options

Genetic testing and risk assessment can be a complicated process. Our goal is to provide you with information about your cancer risk and assist you in using your personal genetic information to make informed decisions about screening and ongoing healthcare management.

We also work with your physician to help set up a patient care plan personalized to you.

There are hereditary links to many types of cancer, including:

  • breast cancer 
  • colon cancer
  • ovarian cancer

Based on your personal and family history, there may be a concern of other hereditary cancer syndromes that involve specific patterns and cancer types, including:

  • kidney
  • endocrine (glandular)
  • pancreatic 
  • skin 
  • brain 
  • uterine 
  • G.I. 
  • prostate
  • leukemias
  • sarcomas
  • and other more rare cancers

Who should consider a cancer risk assessment?

To help determine whether a cancer risk assessment may benefit you and your family, consider these screening guidelines:

  • Cancer diagnosed at an early age (under age 50)
  • Cancer affecting multiple generations of the family (does not need to be the same type of cancer)
  • The same type of cancer affecting 3 or more relatives on the same side of the family
  • More than one cancer in the same person (such as having both breast and ovarian cancer or having cancer in both breasts)
  • Unusual or rare cancers (such as male breast cancer)
  • A personal and family history of breast or ovarian cancer
  • A personal and family history of colon, uterine, stomach or ovarian cancer
  • Breast or ovarian cancer and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
  • A known hereditary cancer syndrome and/or a previously identified cancer gene mutation in the family

If you think you may benefit from cancer risk assessment, discuss your personal and family history with your doctor.


What To Expect

During the visit:

  • A genetic counselor will review the information you have collected about the cancer in your family.
  • A genetic cancer risk assessment and evaluation will be performed based on the cancer history provided.
  • You will receive information on familial and hereditary cancers for which your family may be at risk.
  • Screening, management and risk reduction strategies will be reviewed.
  • You will learn about the pros and cons of genetic testing and consider whether genetic testing may be appropriate and desirable for you and your family.

If you choose to have genetic testing, you typically have a follow-up appointment to review the test results and discuss what they mean for you and your family.

At that time, you may also discuss additional testing, testing for other family members, and development of a medical management plan to address your risk. Insurance companies will often cover specific genetic testing. Testing coverage and preauthorization is discussed at your visit.

If your test results reveal the presence of a genetic mutation, we help you develop a medical management plan and communicate this information to your referring healthcare provider. We also help you inform other family members in a sensitive manner.

We can connect your family members who live in other areas of the country with trained healthcare providers through an international network of cancer genetics specialists. 

Genetic testing for a hereditary cancer can be a very emotional and personal decision that is not right for everyone.

Additionally, while testing has implications for an individual, it also affects one’s family. Due to the benefits and limitations associated with hereditary cancer predisposition testing, it is important to be fully informed before making a decision about testing.

Akron Children's genetic counselors are available to discuss the benefits and limitations of testing, as well as psychological, insurance and confidentiality issues associated with testing.

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Hereditary Cancer Program
our locations

Akron Children's Hospital
Genetic Center
300 Locust St., Suite 500
Akron , OH 44302
Phone: 330-543-8792
Fax: 330-543-3677
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Akron Children's Hospital
6505 Market St., Building A
Boardman , OH 44512
Phone: 330-729-1145
Fax: 330-729-1931
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