The Royal Marsden offers services to individuals and families concerned about a risk of inherited cancer. This can include:
- cancer risk estimation
- genetic testing in some situations
- advice and referral for cancer screening (if appropriate)
- discussion of prevention and risk-reducing management options
- referral to psychological support.
When a patient is referred to The Royal Marsden, the letter is assessed by a senior staff member. If it is urgent an appointment will be made directly, which may be in our telephone clinic in the first instance.
For most patients, the next step once a referral arrives is for us to send out a family history questionnaire. Once this is filled in (with as much information as is known) and returned to us we can draw up a family tree. This summary of the family history allows us to focus the first consultation on the issues that are most important to the patient, such as their level of risk, screening advice and a discussion of whether genetic testing might be useful. We also discuss ways to reduce cancer risk.
While an inherited risk of cancer is uncommon, features suggestive of an inherited risk include:
- two or more close blood relatives on the same side of the family with the same type of cancer
- cancer occurring at young ages before the age at which it usually occurs in the general population
- a person with more than one cancer (but not one cancer that has spread to another site)
- the presence of cancers that are known to run together in a recognisable pattern, for example breast and ovarian cancer or bowel and womb cancer.
Clinics are held at The Royal Marsden’s Chelsea and Sutton hospitals.