Familial Cancer Research Program

SA Clinical Genetics Service – Familial Cancer Unit

The SA Familial Cancer Service provides genetic counselling and testing for individuals and families at increased genetic risk of developing cancer. The Service aims to both prevent the incidence of cancer and increase the early detection of cancer in our community.

This is a state wide initiative of the:

  • The Cancer Council South Australia
  • Institute of Medical & Veterinary Science
  • Royal Adelaide Hospital
  • Flinders Medical Centre
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital
  • SA Clinical Genetics Service.

The Familial Cancer Service also comprises the:

  • Familial Cancer Education Program which aims to raise awareness and knowledge about familial cancers and the Familial Cancer Service.
  • Laboratory Services which provide genetic testing services.

How to access the Service

You will need to discuss your family history with your general practitioner or specialist who can then refer you to the Service.

After we have received a referral letter we will send you:

  • An individual medical information sheet
  • A family history form
  • A consent form (if appropriate) to allow us to access your medical records
  • A pre-paid return envelope.

We will ask you to nominate your preference for the place of your appointment. Clinics are offered at metropolitan public hospitals and in regional centres (Mt Gambier and Pt Augusta).

Once you return the information we will post you details of an appointment to see a clinical geneticist or genetic counsellor.

Following the appointment you and your doctor/s will be sent a detailed letter outlining the issues discussed.

This service is provided at no cost to residents of South Australia.

We welcome any interested family members to attend the appointment.

We also welcome any phone enquires.

Information for families

What is familial cancer?

Familial cancer accounts for just small proportion of all cancers.

The following features are suggestive of a hereditary predisposition to develop cancer:

  • Early age-of-onset of cancer in an affected family member
  • Multiple cancers in one affected family member
  • Several family members affected with cancer.

What is genetic counselling for familial cancer?

The purpose of genetic counselling is to assist you in making the best decisions for yourself.

Genetic counselling involves:

  • giving you the most up-to-date information about inherited cancer
  • identifying family patterns of cancer which may be inherited
  • counselling people regarding the risk of developing cancer
  • providing information about prevention and early detection strategies to maintain health
  • providing support and identification of ongoing needs of individuals and families as they respond to genetic information
  • identifying families for whom genetic testing is appropriate
  • exploring the medical, social and emotional implications of genetic testing for the individual and the family
  • discussion regarding insurance and employment issues in relation to genetic testing.


The Familial Cancer Unit has a range of leaflets about familial cancer in general as well as leaflets about specific conditions. These leaflets are available from the Cancer Genetics Education Officer at the Cancer Council SA.

People who attend an appointment with one of the genetic counsellors of the Unit also receive a detailed letter that summarises the information discussed during the appointment.

Further information, advocacy, counselling, and support services can be accessed through the Cancer Council South Australia. Their Cancer HelpLine can be contacted on 13 11 20 (local call).

Other useful contacts and websites include

•  Cancer Council South Australia
•  UK Cancer Information Service
•  US Cancer Information Service
•  US patient information
•  Genetic testing booklet
•  Genetic testing information

Research Activity

The Familial Cancer Unit has an active clinical research program investigating the cause, impact, and care of familial cancer.


Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Contact details

Clinical Geneticist and Acting Head of Unit
Dr Graeme Suthers

Email graeme.suthers@cywhs.sa.gov.au


Level 7, Samuel Way Building

Mailing address

Familial Cancer Unit
SA Clinical Genetics Service
Women's and Children's Hospital
72 King William Road
North Adelaide
South Australia 5006


Ph (08) 8161 6995

Fax (08) 8161 7984

Email cywhs.famcancer@cywhs.sa.gov.au


Printer-friendly version

Last Modified: 16-11-2012 10:15:13

WCHN Corporate website WCH website homepage