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Cancer Genetics and Prevention Overview

  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute developed one of the first clinical cancer genetics and prevention programs in the world. The program was first developed based on the fundamental work of Dr. Frederick P. Li, one of the founders of the field of cancer genetics and one of the physicians who first recognized Li-Fraumeni syndrome.

    Today, we provide expert comprehensive care for cancer patients, survivors and families who have had cancer, for their family members, and for individuals who hope to avoid cancer.

    A visit to the Cancer Genetics and Prevention Clinic usually includes time with both a physician and a genetic counselor, both of whom have expertise in all forms of inherited cancer syndromes. We educate patients about cancer risk and its implications for them and their family members. Working with referring physicians, we design individualized programs to monitor for the earliest signs of cancer — diagnosing if it occurs, and, in many cases, preventing it from arising.

    If you or your doctor thinks that you are at increased risk of developing cancer or may have an inherited risk of cancer, we can provide an estimate of your risk as accurately as possible, and work with you, and your health care team to provide strategies to help lower your cancer risk.

  • Our Expertise

    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention includes a team of expert health professionals — medical oncologists, gastroenterologists, geneticists, gynecologists, psychologists, surgeons, nurses, and genetic counselors — who provide cancer risk assessment and comprehensive recommendations for managing cancer risk. We partner with the Pediatric Cancer Genetics Program to offer families complete genetic testing and management recommendations.

    Dana-Farber's clinical psychologists work with patients from hereditary cancer families. We regularly consult with individuals who are considering, or have had, genetic testing for a variety of adult and pediatric cancer. For a consultation, call 617-632-6181.

    As part of risk assessment, we offer genetic and genomic testing to determine risk for inherited cancer syndromes such as breast and ovarian cancer syndromes (BRCA1 and BRCA2), Lynch Syndrome, and various rare cancer syndromes.

    We also conduct research into many aspects of cancer risk and its management.

    The landscape of the field of genetics is rapidly changing. We provide advanced options in genetic testing across the spectrum of new and established inherited cancer syndromes, including:

    • Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer
    • Hereditary Gastrointestinal Cancer Syndromes
    • Lynch Syndrome
    • Li-Fraumeni Syndrome
    • Familial Pancreatic Cancer
    • Hereditary Paraganglioma-Pheochromocytoma Syndrome (PGL/PCC)
    • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST)

    Learn about our Specialty Centers and Programs for specific hereditary cancers and syndromes.