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Genetic Counseling & Genetic Testing

Specialists estimate that 5 to 10% of all cancers are hereditary – caused by inherited genetic changes.

Genetic counseling and cancer risk assessment is an important part of cancer care at Ridley-Tree Cancer Center. Our certified genetic counselors offer comprehensive genetic counseling and testing services to patients and families at suspected risk for hereditary cancer. Genetic counseling helps patients and families with a history of cancer better understand and manage their risk for developing cancer through cancer risk assessment and genetic testing. 

Having a genetic counseling consultation at Ridley-Tree Cancer Center does not mean you have to undergo genetic testing. Deciding whether or not to pursue testing is a personal choice that can be made at the time of the initial visit or at a future date. For many people, we are able to make an assessment about your cancer risk through genetic counseling alone, without genetic testing. However, some testing may help you and your doctor make important decisions about your medical care.

Genetic counseling appointments are available in person and via Telehealth. To contact the Genetic Counseling department, call (805) 879-5653.

Who should consider genetic counseling?

  • If you or a family member have been diagnosed with cancer before the age of 50
  • If you or a family member have been diagnosed with two or more cancers or bilateral cancers (i.e. both breasts)
  • If you or a family member have rare cancers, such as ovarian cancer
  • If two or more family members on the same side have been diagnosed with the same type of cancer
  • If your family has a known hereditary cancer syndrome
  • If your family history of cancer causes you to worry about the risk for you or your children

What to expect during a genetic counseling appointment?

  • We understand that many factors must be considered when discussing cancer risk, including personality, coping style, and family experience with cancer. Our goal is to provide confidential information, reassurance, and support to cancer patients and their families.
  • Review of personal and family history
  • Assessment of personal cancer risk
  • Discussion of the role that genes play in the development of cancer
  • Individualized prevention strategies to reduce cancer risk
  • Information about the risk, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing
  • Reassurance about confidentiality
  • Support to make educated and informed decisions about genetic testing
  • Genetic testing facilitation, when appropriate


This program is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Cancer Foundation of Santa BarbaraRidley-Tree Cancer Center’s fundraising partner.