What We Know About Genetics and Cancer
Medical discoveries are rapidly expanding our understanding of the relationship between cancer and genetics. We know that certain cancers - breast, colon, ovarian, uterine, melanoma, pancreatic - are more likely to run in families. We can test for genetic links to those cancers. Moreover, there's mounting evidence that knowing your cancer risk factors, including genetics, can make an astounding difference in your future health. It can promote the following:
- Preventive measures to reduce you risk of cancer
- Early detection procedures
- Treatment options
The end result? Peace of mind from knowing you're doing all that you can to live a longer, healthier life.
Who Should Consider Genetic Education/Testing?
Not all cancers are hereditary. In fact, almost 90 percent of cancers are attributed to environmental factors, lifestyle choices or a combination of reasons. However, you should consider seeking genetic education and counseling if your family history includes:
- Multiple cases of cancer, especially breast, colon, ovarian, uterine, melanoma and pancreatic
- Cancer in certain paired organs, including breast/ovary, colon/endometrial or melanoma/pancreatic
- Cancer at an unusually early age
- A known genetic abnormality
Initial Assessment - Allows us to answer your questions and conduct a complete cancer risk assessment. Based on this information, we make recommendations for or against testing.
Genetic Education - Before testing, we meet to discuss the risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing. After the results are available, we meet with you to interpret the results and explain the prognosis and treatment options.
Test Coordination - We coordinate testing with the doctor and laboratory and notify you when test results are returned. If testing is recommended, we arrange to have the testing done and assure that you and your physician understand the results.
Referral and Resource Support - We will discuss your medical management options, which may range from simple lifestyle changes to long-term medical interventions. We also offer emotional support and, if desired, help disseminate the information to family members.
Many health plans now cover genetic testing. Once it's determined that testing is desired, we can work with you to gather detailed information about coverage. We'll also inform you of legislative protections in place to assure that employers or insurance companies do not discriminate based on genetic test results.
If you have any questions about genetic testing or want to know if you are a possible candidate for genetic testing, contact the Mercy Hereditary Cancer Prevention Clinic at 712-279-2164.