For more information

Call 763-236-5626

Worried about inheriting cancer or passing it on? Ask your doctor if genetic counseling is right for you.

Cancer genetics program

If you or any of your close relatives have had cancer, you may be concerned about your risk for future cancers and wonder what you can do to reduce it. You may also wonder if your siblings, children and other relatives are at risk.

Genetic counseling can help answer these questions.

Our cancer genetics program

  • Rachel Riesgraf, MS, certified genetic counselor

Consider genetic counseling if you, a parent, sibling, or child have had:

  • breast cancer at age 45 to 50 or younger
  • breast cancer at any age with Jewish ancestry
  • ovarian cancer at any age
  • colorectal cancer at age 50 or younger
  • more than one type of cancer
  • a rare type of cancer (such as male breast cancer)
  • similar cancers in many relatives (on your mother's or father's side)
  • more than 10 colon polyps over a lifetime

Genetic counseling at Mercy Hospital

Genetic counseling involves meeting with a genetic counselor (someone who is specialized in the areas of medical genetics and counseling). A genetic counselor helps interpret complex family histories, helps people understand genetic tests and how their genes affect their health, and provides a personal risk assessment. They can help you determine if a genetic test is right for you and help you make an informed decision about such testing. Genetic counselors also provide information about cancer awareness, early detection and prevention in families.

Rachel Riesgraf, MS, certified genetic counselor, joined the cancer genetics program at Mercy in 2011. She completed her undergraduate work in biomedical science at St. Cloud State University and received a master's degree in molecular, cellular, developmental biology and genetics from the Genetic Counseling Program at the University of Minnesota.

About genetic testing

Genetic testing may be covered by insurance. Your genetic counselor can assist in the testing process, including help with seeking prior authorization from your insurance company before having the test if needed.

Not all people with a personal or family history of cancer will benefit from genetic testing. Meeting with a genetic counselor does not mean that you will always have a genetic test. However, you will learn more about testing options and if they are right for you.

To make a genetic counseling appointment at Mercy, call 763-236-5626. Before calling, ask your primary care physician for a referral.

Source: Mercy Hospital Cancer Genetics Program
Reviewed By: Rajini Katipamula-Malisetti, MD, medical oncologist
First Published: 04/02/2012
Last Reviewed: 04/02/2012