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Providing an assessment of risk for hereditary cancer and offering genetic testing requires planning for any practice. Learn what systems you have in place to provide this service to your patients. 

When ordering genetic tests, oncology providers must ensure that the medical, psychological, and ethical consequences of the testing have been considered. Additionally, they must provide accurate interpretation of tests and ensure that communication of risk information is clear for both the patient and family.

In-House vs. Referral: What’s Right for Your Practice 

The purpose of conducting a needs assessment is not only to identify and address deficiencies, but also to recognize resources that may already be in place. The assessment should be conducted in order to establish a clear picture of what services can already be provided and by whom, and where resources are insufficient.

The questions below are designed to assist with the identification of strengths and weaknesses that exist within the practice or care center, and the surrounding community.

Referral Criteria

  • Do you have criteria or a defined process for who should be counseled or referred for counseling and testing?


  • Do you have support for a person or persons to provide pre- and post-test counseling?


  • Do you have an identified person with the knowledge and time to provide pre- and post-test counseling?
  • Can you provide access to preventative and surveillance options for patients who test positive for pathogenic mutations?
  • Are personnel able to provide information for families?
  • Can you provide counseling personnel with ongoing education in this rapidly changing field?

Logistical Issues

  • Consultation space: Do you have space for consultation with patients (both pre- and post-test counseling sessions)?
  • Support services:
    • Do you have staff for screening and scheduling for counseling sessions?
    • Do you have staff for prior authorization for genetic testing?

Resources for Building or Enhancing Your Cancer Genetics Program

National Society of Genetic Counselors: Practice Resources for Starting, Expanding, and Supporting a Cancer Genetics Program 

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