CDC’s Cancer Genomics Program

Photo of a family

Knowing your family history of cancer and discussing it with a health care provider are important steps in understanding your cancer risk.

Knowing your family history of cancer and discussing it with a health care provider are important steps in understanding your cancer risk.

While cancers associated with family history or genetics account for only about 10% of all cancers, people who get hereditary cancers and their families—

  • Are at higher risk for getting cancer more than once.
  • Are more likely to get cancer at younger ages.
  • Are more likely to be diagnosed as advanced cancer.

People at high risk should talk to a health care provider about ways to lower their cancer risk, such as getting screening tests earlier or more often than people who are at average risk.

CDC is conducting research and implementing programs to create opportunities for cancer prevention and control for high-risk individuals and families.

About the Cooperative Agreement

CDC’s Cancer Genomics ProgramExternal develops best practices in education, surveillance, and policy and systems change approaches, and establishes an evidence base for the application of family history and cancer genomics in public health practice. Our programs main goals are to: 1) increase the number of people who know their family history of cancer and share it with a health care provider, and 2) increase the number of people appropriately referred to genetic counseling and testing. Activities focus on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome and Lynch syndrome, where more evidence exists.

The program evaluates activities and strategies to understand their impact and identify best practices for translation and dissemination to other programs and organizations.

CDC’s Cancer Genomics Program is funding five state health departments through 2019 to—

  • Educate the public about the impact having a family history of cancer can have on their risk.
  • Provide information and resources for medical providers to facilitate conversations with patients about family health history and the potential need for referral to a genetic specialist.
  • Use data from cancer registries, state health surveys, and other sources to learn more about hereditary cancers in their states, and the needs of providers and high-risk individuals and families.
  • Increase access to and use of clinical services that are appropriate for those at high risk, like genetic counseling and testing and cancer screening.
  • Develop partnerships with health systems and state and local organizations to find ways to address the needs of people who have a high risk of cancer.

To learn more about our short-, intermediate-, and long-term outcomes, please read our logic model.

Map of the United States with Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, Oregon, and Utah highlighted

CDC’s Cancer Genomics Program is funding health departments in Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, Oregon, and Utah.

Program Highlights

  • Through a digital media campaign, the Connecticut State Department of Public Health, Office of GenomicsExternal is educating residents about the importance of talking with family members about their family history of cancer and sharing it with health care providers.
  • The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is testing innovative ways to use cancer registry data for cancer genomics, and has launched an educational websiteExternal for providers and the public.
  • The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Cancer Genomics ProgramExternal identified underserved regions in Michigan with high incidence of hereditary cancers but low use of cancer genetic services. The program worked with their partners to assess needs, and developed provider education materials and a public radio advertisement to increase awareness of hereditary cancers.
  • The Oregon Health Authority’s ScreenWise Program educates health care providersExternal and high-risk individuals about cancer genetic services in Oregon through the Hereditary Cancer Awareness Project,External and is exploring new data sets for surveillance.
  • The Utah Department of Health’s Cancer Control ProgramExternal has trained providers across the state of Utah and educated BRCA-positive patients about their increased cancer risk, risk management strategies, the importance of talking with family members about their shared risk. They have also worked with major health systems to assess family cancer history at the time of mammography.

CDC funded three state health departments from 2011 to 2014.  Results from that cooperative agreement can be found in the research article, “The activities and impact of state programs to address hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, 2011–2014.”External

Page last reviewed: January 14, 2019