Genetic Testing – Cancer

Several types of cancer are known to have a genetic component. Emerson provides genetic screening and counseling for patients who want to know their cancer risks.

The ability to perform genetic testing to determine if a patient carries a known cancer gene is a significant breakthrough in cancer management. Patients at genetic risk for cancer can take steps to prevent cancers from occurring, or increase screenings to make sure they are found at the earliest, most treatable stages. Understanding the genetic causes of cancer is also leading to the development of customized, targeted cancer therapies. As more cancer genes are identified, more patients will benefit. Genetic testing also makes it possible to analyze a tumor’s DNA to determine whether or not a patient is at high or low risk for recurrence. Patients at low risk for recurrence may not require chemotherapy.

The goal of cancer genetics counseling is to assist patients who wish to understand the role genetics plays in their cancer diagnosis, as well as the potential risk for family members. For more information, please call 978-287-3436.


An Emerson medical oncologist oversees the genetic testing service and works with patients to address the issues that testing can present. Those who are found to be positive for a cancer gene need to consider how to best prevent a future cancer diagnosis given their increased risk, and they also need to decide whether to tell family members about the gene mutation so that they too can decide whether or not to be tested.

Support Services and Groups

Emerson offers a wide range of community health and wellness programs and classes that can help participants learn about cancer prevention and early diagnosis strategies or help those with cancer manage the stress associated with the illness. A variety of stress reduction programs use approaches including mindfulness training, yoga and meditation, tai chi, Reiki and Qigong. Another program teaches nutrition strategies for preventing cancer recurrence to those who have completed cancer treatment.

Emerson’s Lund Community Health Library can help individuals better understand and cope with the diagnosis of a medical condition and to provide information about the latest treatment methods. 


The Mass General Cancer Center at Emerson Hospital - Bethke brings together specialists from Emerson Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Lahey and  Brigham and Women's Hospital, to provide the latest, highest-quality cancer treatment close to home and family. Through partnerships with the American Cancer Society, and many regional and national cancer support organizations, the Cancer Center brings support programs, education, transportation and resources to patients and their families.