ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Cancer genetic testing is a test that is performed when a person has either a personal history of cancer, or a family history of cancer that suggests a risk of cancer could be passed on. A genetics counselor helps people learn more about their risks and assists them moving forward.

Genetic testing for cancer risk, ordered by a doctor, will test for inherited genetic variants that are associated with a high to moderately increased risk of cancer.

There are a number of factors that go into whether a person will undergo genetic testing.

"Family history is one of the bigger parts of what we go through together," said Dr. Paul Kwon, a cancer genetics counselor with Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.

The test is typically a one-time blood draw.

A cancer genetics counselor will walk through the family history with a patient, look for red flags, and look out for patients who may be at high risk for hereditary cancers. If the test comes back positive, the counselor will have a conversation with the patient.

"Go through the cancer risk, usually with specific numbers, so lifetime risk associated with those genes to give better context, and then I give examples that could impact their care," Kwon said. "Whether it's preventative surgeries like mastectomies or going to their OBGYN about removing their fallopian tubes and their ovaries because of the ovarian cancer risk, things like that, I just like to go into those ways that it could impact their care."

Genetic testing can help clarify those cancer risks not just for the patient, but for family members as well.

Patients can opt for things like cancer screenings, preventative surgery management, and can discuss treatment options with their doctor after undergoing genetic testing. 

"Yes, you may find out that you are at an increased risk for these types of cancers, but the good thing is, we know. Especially your doctors, which means we can put you on the correct high-risk surveillance plans, offer any preventative surgeries that can greatly reduce those risks, and then if you think about it, if the test comes back negative or normal for everything, at least with the currently known genes, that's reassuring," Kwon said.

If you meet the criteria, labs should cost $100 or less with insurance. With a self-pay option, it would run around $250.