Talking about hereditary cancer risk with family members can be complicated. Additionally, it can sometimes be difficult to identify and contact at-risk family members who might benefit from genetic counseling and any subsequent genetic testing. The Cascade Screening Connector can help.

Genetic Support Foundation has partnered with the Washington State Department of Health to provide cascade screening to help people identify and contact family members who may have an increased chance of developing cancer.

Anyone in Washington state with hereditary cancer risk can
call the Cascade Screening Connector at (360) 524-6577, or toll free at (800) 364-1641

What is cascade screening?

Some genetic conditions can be passed from parent to child, generation to generation, affecting multiple family members. Cascade screening is a way to identify and test the relatives of people who have particular genetic conditions that may “run in the family,” such as Lynch Syndrome and Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome.

When a person is diagnosed with one of these conditions, their family members are at heightened risk for that condition too. Unlike some other genetic conditions, Lynch Syndrome and Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome are “autosomal dominant” conditions. This means there is a 50% chance of a parent passing on the condition to their child. That’s why it’s so important to talk with relatives about getting screened. Cascade screening gives health care professionals a chance to detect these conditions early and provide appropriate medical recommendations.

Relatives at risk commonly include first- and second-degree relatives such as parents, siblings, children, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, grandparents, grandchildren, and half-siblings.

How does the Cascade Screening Connector help? 

The Cascade Screening Connector (CSC) is a new Washington State public health service. The CSC helps identify at-risk relatives and collect contact information, share the diagnosis with these relatives, and connect them with health services. A Cascade Screening Connector team member will walk you through your family tree to develop a plan for communicating this important information to the appropriate family members. 

For more information, visit: www.doh.wa.gov/CascadeScreening.

Additional Resources

The following resources can be used by patients and providers to share a diagnosis with family. Sharing this information is not always easy, but it is important and can even save lives.

Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome

·         Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome: A Guide for Patients and Their Families

·         Sample Letter for Informing Your Family Members about Your BRCA1 or BRCA2 Mutation

·         Sample clinician’s letter to provide patients to help them let their family members know about their BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation

·         Where can I go to receive genetic services in Washington?

Lynch Syndrome

·         Lynch Syndrome: A Guide for Patients and Their Families

·         Sample Letter for Informing Your Family Members about Your Lynch Syndrome Mutation

·         Sample clinician’s letter to provide patients to help them let their family members know about their Lynch syndrome mutation

·         Where can I go to receive genetic services in Washington?