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VCU Massey Cancer Center


Genetic counseling

VCU Massey Cancer Center’s Familial Cancer Clinic is the only one of its kind in the Richmond area staffed by certified genetic counselors accredited by the American Board of Genetic Counselors. The program provides genetic testing and counseling to help individuals determine their family history and cancer risk, a prevention plan and treatment, if necessary. The Clinic offers full counseling services for all types of cancers, as well as access to clinical trials. For cancer patients, certified counselors serve as part of a multidisciplinary cancer care team.

Our services include:

  • Review and consultation by a team of board-certified clinical geneticists, genetic counselors and cancer specialists
  • Diagnosis of genetic conditions and cancer risk assessment
  • Tailored cancer screening recommendations
  • Comprehensive discussion of preventive measures, including chemoprevention and prophylactic surgery
  • Information for other family members
  • Discussion and facilitation of genetic testing
  • Information about appropriate research programs and/or clinical trials
  • Referrals to other specialists necessary for comprehensive and tailored care

When are genetic services needed?

Many features can be present in a family that would indicate a referral is needed for genetic services. The following is a general (partial) checklist of characteristics that may indicate an increased risk of familial cancer or a heritable cancer syndrome. The symptoms of genetic diseases may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician or genetic counselor for a diagnosis and a complete list of characteristics.

Family history checklist:


___ A family history of multiple cases of the same or related types of cancer 
___  One or more relatives with rare cancers
___ Cancers occurring at an earlier age of onset than usual (for instance, under the age of 50 years) in at least one member
___ Bilateral cancers (two cancers that develop independently in a paired organ, i.e., both kidneys or both breasts)
___ One or more family members with two primary cancers (two original tumors that develop in different sites)
___ Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish background


More information

To make an appointment, please phone (804) 828-5116. For assistance accessing information related to our programs or if you have questions or would like to discuss your situation, please contact:

John Quillin, Ph.D., C.G.C., (804) 628-1925
Heather Creswick, M.S., C.G.C., (804) 828-6245

Additional resources:

Information to collect from your family

Use the family history form
Family history is a key ingredient in determining the likelihood of having a particular disease in the future. Every member of your family should have a detailed health history to share with his or her physician. In fact, tracking disease and health patterns could make a huge difference not only for your own life, but for those of future generations. Family history can help your doctor understand your own health problems — and better yet, teach you how to prevent them and save yourself a lot of medical procedures and hospital stays, and the bills that come with it.

Fill out a health history form and share it with your doctor. (This form was developed, in part, with funding provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a cooperative agreement with the Virginia Department of Health, award no. U50/CCU321127.)

If you are a parent filling out a family health history form for a child, please use the Parent to child family health history form instead.

Questions to ask family members;

  • What traits run in our family?
  • Do or did any of my family members have a health problem?
  • How old were they when their health problem started?
  • How old were my family members when they died?
  • Why did they die?
  • Were there any miscarriages, stillbirths or babies born with birth defects?
  • Where were my family members born?
  • Did any of my relatives smoke? How much? How long?
  • What other lifestyle habits did my family members have?
  • What types of allergies, reactions to food or medications, did family members have?