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What we do

Up to 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their lifetime. Most cancers happen when people get older, and are not due to anything running in the family. However, sometimes we see more cancer in a family than we would expect by chance. Conditions which run in a family are usually caused by genetic changes. Our genetic code is the instruction manual for how to make a person, and is present in every cell in our body. Genetic changes make us who we are.

For example, genetic changes will decide whether our eyes will be blue or green or brown. Genetic changes tell our body how tall to grow.

In some cases, a person can carry genetic changes which increase the chance of them getting cancer.

For these people we can offer extra screening or other ways to make it less likely that they will get an untreatable cancer.

To help us decide whether you have an increased chance of developing cancer in your lifetime, we use family history as a guide. We look at

• the number of people who have developed cancer in your family
• the ages the cancers developed
• the types of cancer in the family
• how closely related the relatives with cancer are

This information helps us decide whether any genetic testing is needed, or, more commonly, whether any extra screening is needed for you and your relatives.

To learn more about our Cancer Genetics service, click here.

Our Team

The Clinical Genetics department organises a wide range of clinics at St George’s Hospital and throughout the South West Thames region.

Clinics are for anyone concerned about a known or suspected genetic condition in themselves or their family.

The department currently employs:

  • 9 Genetic Consultants
  • 8 Genetic Counsellors
  • Several Trainee Doctors and Genetic Counsellors

The Clinical Department is closely integrated with the South West Thames Regional Genetics Laboratory which offers Molecular and Cytogenetic services.