Genetic cancer risk assessment and counseling: recommendations of the national society of genetic counselors

J Genet Couns. 2004 Apr;13(2):83-114. doi: 10.1023/B:JOGC.0000018821.48330.77.


These cancer genetic counseling recommendations describe the medical, psychosocial, and ethical ramifications of identifying at-risk individuals through cancer risk assessment with or without genetic testing. They were developed by members of the Practice Issues Subcommittee of the National Society of Genetic Counselors Cancer Genetic Counseling Special Interest Group. The information contained in this document is derived from extensive review of the current literature on cancer genetic risk assessment and counseling as well as the personal expertise of genetic counselors specializing in cancer genetics. The recommendations are intended to provide information about the process of genetic counseling and risk assessment for hereditary cancer disorders rather than specific information about individual syndromes. Key components include the intake (medical and family histories), psychosocial assessment (assessment of risk perception), cancer risk assessment (determination and communication of risk), molecular testing for hereditary cancer syndromes (regulations, informed consent, and counseling process), and follow-up considerations. These recommendations should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of management, nor does use of such recommendations guarantee a particular outcome. These recommendations do not displace a health care provider's professional judgment based on the clinical circumstances of a client.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Critical Pathways*
  • Genetic Counseling* / methods
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / diagnosis
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / genetics*
  • Risk Assessment