Genetics plays an important role in assessing risk for those with a personal or family history of cancer.

Many types of cancer, including melanoma, breast, colon, ovarian, pancreatic, endometrial/uterine, stomach and thyroid, have a hereditary component. That means they can be passed from one generation to the next.

Our Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment Program, led by a board certified genetic counselor, provides genetic testing and counseling to people who have been recently diagnosed with cancer, as the results can help with treatment decisions, including which type of surgery to undergo. Genetic testing can also be useful for people previously diagnosed with cancer to assess their risk for future cancers so that they may take preventive action.

There is also value in testing people who are at an increased risk due to family history or other factors. You should consider investigating your hereditary risk if:

  • Cancer appears at an early age in your family (breast or ?colon cancer before the age of 50, for example)
  • Multiple close relatives have developed the same or related cancers
  • An individual family member has had two or more types of cancer
  • Particular ancestry, such as descended from Ashkenazi Jews, or rare cancers in the ?family (such as male breast cancer)

Genetic Mutations and Related Cancers

These are just a few of the many genes that we can test for mutations, along with their related cancers:

  • BRCA1/BRCA2 for breast, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic and male breast cancers
  • MLH1, MLH2, MSH6, PMS2 and EPCAM for colon, endometrial, ovarian and gastric cancers
  • APC for colon cancer
  • CDH1 for diffuse gastric cancer
  • P53 for leukemia, sarcoma, brain, breast and childhood cancers
  • PTEN for breast, thyroid and endometrial cancers
  • RET for medullary thyroid cancer and tumors of the adrenal and parathyroid glands
  • MENIN for tumors of the pituitary, parathyroid and pancreas
  • CDKN2, CDK4 for melanoma and pancreatic cancer

Testing can focus on a single gene or focus on as many as 40 genes using Next Generation Sequencing technology.

The Test

Since the genetic counselor will ask questions about your family’s medical history, we advise that you talk to relatives prior to your appointment.

Your genetic testing appointment can often be scheduled on the same day you have another appointment such as a surgical consult.

The genetic test is quick and easy. It involves getting a DNA sample by either having a small sample of blood drawn or obtaining saliva from your mouth.

The Results

Test results are usually available in two to three weeks, but some results can take longer. The genetic counselor will explain the results and coordinate with your team of specialists to determine the best plan to manage and reduce cancer risk.

Meet the Genetic Counselors

Jonathan Clyman, Ph.D., CGC 
Board Certified Genetic Counselor

Mariana Niell-Swiller, MS, CGC
Board Certified Genetic Counselor


Most major insurance is accepted. Please contact your insurance carrier concerning coverage and precertification requirements. A doctor's referral is recommended.


Dyson Center for Cancer Care
45 Reade Place
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
(845) 483-6667
(800) 421-1220

Putnam Hospital
Van Wagner Cancer Pavilion 670 Stoneleigh Avenue
Carmel, NY 10512
(845) 278-5641
(800) 421-1220


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