Cancer Genetics Clinic

The Mater Private Cancer Genetics Service is Ireland’s first Onco-Genetics Clinic providing Hereditary Cancer Risk Counselling and Genetic Testing in line with best international practice.

The aim of this service is to identify individuals with a genetic predisposition to cancer through genetic testing and to promote the prevention or early diagnosis of cancer in individuals with an increased risk of cancer due to an inherited cause. There are two key elements to our service: Hereditary Cancer Risk Counselling and Genetic Testing.

  • Hereditary Cancer Risk Counselling involves a discussion of your personal and/or family history of cancer. At the Mater Private Hospital, cancer risk counselling is provided by Prof. David Gallagher, Cancer Geneticist and Michael Farrell, Clinical Nurse Specialist in cancer genetics.

    What is discussed during a cancer risk counselling session?

    The goal of cancer risk counselling is to provide clear and clinically relevant information about genetic risk factors in an atmosphere of support and education. Your initial one-to-two hour session will focus on questions and concerns about your or your family’s risk of cancer. As part of a hereditary cancer risk counselling session you will learn about and discuss:

    • Your individual cancer risk assessment
    • The latest advances in cancer genetics
    • Personalised cancer screening recommendations and referrals
    • The risks, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing
    • Options for participating in research
    • Referrals to clinicians who provide psychological counselling for individuals and families who need assistance to cope with the challenges that may arise during counselling and testing.

    Who should have hereditary cancer risk counselling?

    Counselling is typically recommended for individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer at unusually young ages or who have multiple family members who have been diagnosed with cancer.

    Does hereditary cancer risk counselling require genetic testing?

    No. Genetic testing may not be useful for everyone receiving counselling. You may also decide after the counselling that genetic testing is not for you.

  • Genetic testing involves the use of laboratory methods to obtain a more precise estimate of your cancer risk. Although a cancer risk assessment can be provided without genetic testing, in some cases testing may help clarify your cancer risk. Genetic testing results may help you and your physician make important decisions about your medical care. Deciding whether or not to have genetic testing is a personal choice that can be made at the time of the counselling session or at a future date.

    What is the risk of discrimination if a person has cancer genetic testing?

    During your visit, you can learn about the current status of Irish and International legislation in this area. Such risks exist in theory but this should not be seen as a barrier to hereditary cancer risk counselling. We will discuss the latest news on this with you during the process.

    What questions will the Clinical Genetics Service help to answer?

    What are the latest medical and surgical options for prevention or early detection of hereditary forms of cancer?
    Are the treatments for hereditary cancers different from those for non-hereditary cancers?
    If I am at an increased risk of developing cancer, what will the risk for my family be?
    Am I eligible to receive genetic testing as part of a clinical research study?
    What are the options for medical insurance coverage or reimbursement for hereditary cancer risk counselling and genetic testing?

    Would the Mater Private Cancer Genetics Service be of assistance to me?

    Here are some important questions for you to consider. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, hereditary cancer risk counselling may be useful for you.

    • Have you or a close relative been diagnosed with cancer at an early age?
    • Do you have more than one relative with the same type of cancer? If yes, is the same type of cancer found in more than one generation?
    • Has any one person in your family had more than one type of cancer?
    • Has anyone in your family been diagnosed with bilateral (both sides) cancer of paired organs (e.g., breasts, ovaries, kidneys)?
    • Are you related to someone who is known to have an inherited mutation that can cause cancer?
    • How will the Mater Private Cancer Genetics Service address my questions and concerns?

    The Mater Private Cancer Genetics Service will treat your concerns with sensitivity and support. We understand that many factors must be considered when discussing cancer risk, including your personality, method of coping, and your family’s experience with cancer. Our counsellors and staff will tailor each consultation to fit your specific needs.

    How can I obtain more information?

    Mater Private Hospital Cancer Genetics Service, 73 Eccles Street, Dublin 7.

    Tel: 01 885 8398