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Cancer Genetics and High Risk Program

The Cancer Genetics and High Risk Program offers cancer risk assessment, genetic counselling and/or genetic testing to eligible individuals and families who may be at risk for hereditary cancer.

What is genetic counselling?

Genetic counselling is the process of helping individuals and families understand and adapt to the medical and psychological impact of genetic conditions.

Genetic counsellors in the Cancer Genetics and High Risk Program interpret family and medical histories to assess risk of hereditary cancer syndromes. Our genetic counsellors promote informed choices about genetic testing, cancer screening and prevention.

What to expect from your genetic counselling appointment?

A general overview of what happens during a genetic counselling appointment

Appointments with a genetic counsellor usually last between 45-60 minutes. In that time, you can expect:

  • A review of your family history
  • Risk assessment for hereditary cancer in your family
  • Discussion of eligibility for genetic testing
  • Discussion of the benefits and limitations of genetic testing
  • Personalized cancer risk assessment
  • Discussion of screening recommendations and prevention options
  • Referrals to other healthcare providers when appropriate

What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing typically involves a simple blood test that can be drawn on the day of the genetic counselling appointment. This sample is used to test for changes in genes that increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. The result of a genetic test usually takes 2-4 weeks. However, results can take up to three months depending on the type of testing offered.

Genetic testing may not be useful for everyone having genetic counselling. The Ontario Ministry of Health has criteria for who is eligible to have genetic testing covered under OHIP. Having genetic testing is a personal decision and some individuals may choose not to have this testing even if they are eligible.

Who should be referred?

The program may see individuals with a personal and/or family history in close relatives of one or more of the following:

  • A family member with a known pathogenic variant in a cancer susceptibility gene (i.e. BRCA1, BRCA2, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS2, EPCAM, TP53, etc)
  • Breast cancer at ≤35 years
  • Triple negative breast cancer at ≤60 years
  • Bilateral breast cancer, especially if one or both was diagnosed ≤50 years
  • Ovarian cancer at any age
  • Both breast cancer and ovarian cancer at any age in the same woman
  • Male breast cancer at any age
  • Breast or ovarian cancer at any age and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
  • ≥ 10 adenomatous colon polyps
  • Colon cancer or endometrial cancer at ≤50 years
  • Two cases of colon cancer and/or endometrial cancer at ≤60 years
  • Other personal or family history suggesting an inherited pattern of cancer

How to be referred?

Please have your doctor fax a completed referral form to the Cancer Genetics and High Risk Program. Our fax number is 416-480-5859. To inquire about a referral, call 416-480-6835.

 Download the Cancer Genetics and High Risk Program referral form

How can I prepare for my appointment?

» Family History Questionnaire

Before your appointment you will be sent a family history questionnaire to complete. The sooner the questionnaire is returned, the sooner your appointment can be booked. Your questionnaire can be returned by fax or mail.

 Download the Family History Questionnaire 

» Release of Information 

If more information is required on family members, such as their medical records or genetic test results, you may be asked to have a family member sign a release of information form.

To inquire about a returned family history questionnaire, release of information form and/or appointment, call 416-480-5000 ext. 85336.

 Download the Release of Information Form

Breast Cancer Risk Assessment

As part of a genetic counselling appointment, all eligible women aged 30-69 are assessed for their lifetime risk of breast cancer.

Location and contact

Cancer Genetics and High Risk Program

Louise Temerty Breast Cancer Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue, 
M-wing, 6th floor
Toronto, ON M4N 3M5

» View contact information

416-480-5000 ext. 85336

Fax: 416-480-5859


Hours: Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.