Genetic Risk Assessments

Virginia Cancer Specialists » Treatments » Risk Assessment

Genetic Testing and Counseling

At Virginia Cancer Specialists, we provide comprehensive medical care and support services for people diagnosed with cancer or those at a higher risk of developing cancer.  Our integrated team comprised of oncologists, genetic counselors, nurse practitioners and nurse specialists have received special training related to inherited cancers and are available to help you understand your level of risk and provide personalized medical recommendations based on personal and/or family history of cancer.

Approximately 5-10% of cancers are inherited.  Changes in a particular gene can be passed down from a parent and are associated with a higher lifetime risk of cancer.  Features suggestive of hereditary cancer include:

  • Any individual diagnosed with cancer prior to age 50
  • Any individual who has developed more than one cancer
  • Any individual with a rare type of cancer (ovarian, male breast cancer, pancreatic)
  • An individual with two or more family members diagnosed with the same cancer
  • A family member with an identifiable gene mutation known to increase the risk of cancer
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry with a personal or family history of  cancer

If you or your family has these features, it is important to review this information with your doctor and to schedule an appointment with our team for a more in depth discussion.

If you are a patient with a Hereditary Risk Assessment scheduled, please fill out these forms prior to your visit.

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                            [post_content] => Dr. Reid received his doctorate of medicine from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and went on to complete an Internal Medicine Residency at the University of Minnesota Hospitals and Clinics. His Medical Oncology Fellowship was completed at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, where he performed basic research into the molecular biology and pathogenesis of cancer. His Hematology Fellowship was completed at Washington Cancer Institute, Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. He is also a Fellow in the American College of Physicians.

Prior to VCS, Dr. Reid served as a Medical Officer in the Oncology Division, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, and as the Acting Deputy Director, Division of Monoclonal Antibodies, Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Reid is an active participant in the US Oncology research program at Virginia Cancer Specialists. He serves on several medical staff committees at INOVA Fairfax Hospital, and previously served as Medical Staff President at INOVA Fair Oaks Hospital and was a member of the INOVA Health Care Services Board of Trustees. Outside of medicine, Dr. Reid and his wife, Patti are raising three teenagers who are each busy with music studies. Dr. Reid enjoys playing tennis. He is an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 51 in Herndon, VA.

        [post_title] => Robert L. Reid, M.D., F.A.C.P. [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => robert-l-reid-m-d-f-a-c-p [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-11 20:10:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-11 20:10:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => physician [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 537 [post_author] => 2 [post_date] => 2017-09-08 12:48:47 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-08 12:48:47 [post_content] => Dr. Rodriguez attended Johns Hopkins University where she was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in biomedical engineering and was a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. She received her medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine where she was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Dr. Rodriguez then completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and her fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at George Washington Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Dr. Rodriguez currently heads the Virginia Cancer Specialists Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment Program. She has been a member of the US Oncology GREAT (Genetic Risk Evaluation and Treatment Program) Executive Committee since 2013, and she regularly speaks on the subject of genetics. Dr. Rodriguez remains active in other areas of the medical community as well. She serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor at Georgetown University Medical Center, is a member of the Executive Committee for the Arlington Medical Society, and is involved with the Arlington Free Clinic. Her professional memberships include the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Society of Hematology. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Dr. Rodriguez speaks both fluent Spanish and French. She enjoys music and plays guitar in an Irish band.  
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University of Delaware

Graduate School

University of Virginia


Adult/Geriontological Nurse Practitioner, University of Massachusetts Board Certified Adult Nurse Practitioner, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Oncology Certified Nurse, Oncology Nursing Society Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner, Oncology Nursing Society Certified Breast Care Nurse, Oncology Nursing Society [post_title] => Doreen Grzelak, RN, MSN, NP-C, AOCN [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => doreen-grzelak-rn-msn-np-c-aocn [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-11-08 14:35:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-11-08 14:35:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => personnel [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 761 [post_author] => 2 [post_date] => 2017-09-25 16:07:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-25 16:07:01 [post_content] => Ms. Lipinski has practiced genetic counseling since 2004, when she received her ScM from the Johns Hopkins University/National Human Genome Research Institute. Upon completion of her training, Ms. Lipinski worked at the University of Virginia Health System, where she was a genetic counselor and clinical lecturer in the University's Division of Medical Genetics. During her tenure, she provided genetic counseling for pediatric and adult genetics patients, by conducting evaluations for cancer, cardiac, metabolic, developmental, neurological and other indications. Most recently, Ms. Lipinski served as the senior genetic counselor at O and O Alpan, where she evaluated patients referred for Lysosomal Storage Disorders and other rare disorders. Ms. Lipinski is an elected board member of the Virginia Association of Genetic Counselors, has presented various regional and national lectures, and has published multiple peer-reviewed articles. She is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. In her spare time, Ms. Lipinski enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, running, and traveling. [post_title] => Shawn Lipinski, ScM, CGC [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => shawn-lipinski-scm-cgc [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-23 14:26:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-23 14:26:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => personnel [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 39871 [post_author] => 4 [post_date] => 2018-05-29 12:11:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-29 12:11:39 [post_content] => Ms. Williamson received her MS in Genetic Counseling from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Upon completion of her training, Ms. Williamson worked at Mount Sinai Hospital where she devised and implemented a genetic counseling position for the Program for Inherited Metabolic Diseases. During that time, she was head supervisor for the genetic counseling graduate students’ metabolic rotation and was a lecturer for a medical genetics course. Ms. Williamson is a member of the Virginia Association of Genetic Counselors and has published multiple peer-reviewed articles. She is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and is licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine. In her spare time, Ms. Williamson enjoys traveling, hiking and baking. [post_title] => Amy L. Williamson, MS, CGC [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => amy-l-williamson-ms-cgc [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-11-08 14:39:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-11-08 14:39:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => personnel [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [index] => 2 ) )

The Genetics Team

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Cancer Risk Assessment or Evaluation involve?

Prior to your appointment, you will receive paperwork to complete regarding your health and family history.  It is important to provide us with any medical records including pathology or copies of genetic test results for you and/or other family members.

At the appointment, you will learn about how genetics play a role in cancer risk and how likely your family is to have an inherited predisposition to certain cancers.  You will also learn what type of testing (if any) is recommended for you as well as the risks, benefits and limitations of this testing . We will discuss the medical, social, emotional and ethical impact of genetic testing on you and your family.

Once testing is complete, we review results with you in person and can personalize your screening/treatment plan. We also discuss the impact on family members and identify appropriate resources.

What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing is the process of using medical tests to look for specific changes (mutations) in a person’s genes when they have features of a hereditary condition.  This is usually done by a blood or saliva sample. Most genetic testing is ordered through special health care providers and sent to specific genetic labs.

Why are Hereditary Risk Assessment and genetic testing important?

By determining whether an individual is at an elevated risk for cancer based on a gene mutation or strong family history, we can offer special options for medical management, lifestyle choices, and family planning. This includes:

  • Screening for cancers (at a younger age, more frequent intervals and/or using different technology)
  • Prevention or risk reduction of cancers (through surgery or medications)
  • Potential specialized cancer treatment
  • Potential modification of cancer risk through diet and exercise
  • Information regarding risks to children and other family members

Does insurance cover the appointment and testing?

An appointment for Cancer Risk Evaluation is billed to insurance the same as any appointment to a specialist.  Coverage for any additional tests varies by insurance company. While there are general guidelines for coverage, several insurance companies do require pre- and post test consultation by a trained genetics professional to ensure that the appropriate test is ordered.  Nearly all genetic tests are pre-authorized by the specific laboratory that we send testing to.

Can my insurance be affected and/or are my results confidential?

There are laws at the state and federal level preventing your health insurer from using genetic results to discriminate against individuals.  This means that a health insurer cannot deny coverage, drop coverage or raise rates based on the results of genetic testing.   In addition to legal protection, we have multiple procedures in place to maintain confidentiality.

Virginia Cancer Specialists Offices that offer Genetic Counseling

Alexandria Office

Arlington Office

Fair Oaks Office

Fairfax Office

Fairfax Office, Breast Surgical Services

Gainesville Office

Loudoun Office

Woodbridge Office


  1. Lynch Syndrome:  Please download a free copy of A Patients Guide to Lynch Syndrome (below) published by the Hereditary Colon Cancer Foundation.

Appointment Scheduling

To schedule an Appointment, please call:

(703) 208-3155
Monday-Friday 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM