Early detection is one of the best weapons against cancer. One in three women and one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Regular screenings can help identify many cancers in their earliest stages when they can be treated successfully and often cured. The cancer risk assessment program at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center is designed to help individuals and their families understand their risk for cancer and to take steps towards early detection and prevention of their risks.
Why Genetic Counseling? Medical research suggests five to 10 percent of cancers stem from a hereditary cancer syndrome - an abnormal gene that increases a person's risk for cancer. While that may sound small, it equals approximately 76,500 to 153,000 new cancers each year in the United States.
As a certified genetic counselor Stacey Miller performs cancer risk assessments of her patients, evaluating their potential for carrying a hereditary cancer syndrome by researching their family and personal histories. She also proctors genetic tests to look for the defective genes and counsels her patients through the decision of what to do with the information.
What is involved in cancer risk assessment?
Collecting a detailed personal and family medical history
Assessing a person's risk of developing cancer based on his or her history
Determining if this history is suggestive of an inherited cancer syndrome
Providing patient education, facilitation and interpretation for both clinical and research genetic testing (if indicated)
Development of a personalized plan aimed at prevention and early-detection of cancer for the patient and their family
Psychosocial support to assist communication between patient and family
Identification of women at high risk for developing breast cancer who could benefit from additional high risk screening and/or prevention options
What personal/family history could warrant cancer risk assessment?
One or more family members diagnosed with:
Breast, colon or endometrial cancer under age of 50
Ovarian cancer at any age
More than 10 colon polyps or colon polyps developing before the age of 40
More than one cancer diagnosis in an individual
A familial mutation in a hereditary cancer gene
A rare cancer (ie, medullary thyroid, retinoblastoma, male breast cancer, adrenocortical carcinoma, sarcoma, paraganglioma, pheochromocytoma)
Three or more family members diagnosed with cancer
A clustering of cancers that are known to be genetically related (ie, breast and ovarian, colon and endometrial, melanoma and pancreatic, etc.)
Breast or ovarian cancer and Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry
Concern about cancer risk and wanting to learn more about their options
How much will this cost and will it affect my insurance? Most insurances plans cover the cost of genetic counseling and genetic testing (if medically indicated), including Medicare and Medicaid. There are both federal and state laws that make discrimination based on a genetic mutation illegal. Health insurance cannot consider a gene mutation a pre-existing condition.
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