While most cancers are not inherited, individuals with a family history of cancer, or those already diagnosed with cancer, can benefit from genetic counseling and risk assessment services offered by Winthrop’s Institute for Cancer Care. Families with multiple members affected by cancer are at higher risk for carrying a predisposition gene.
- Patient Information - Genetic counselors provide information to help individuals and families understand their risks for certain kinds of hereditary cancer syndromes associated with breast, ovarian, uterine, colon, pancreas, melanoma, sarcoma and prostate cancer.
- Family and Medical Histories - Complete family and medical histories are taken, and specific cancer risks are calculated. Screening guidelines are provided, depending on the patient’s risk level.
- Pre-Symptomatic Genetic Testing - This service may be available to high-risk patients and families. The benefits and limitations of testing are discussed. Informed consent is obtained, and arrangements are made for shipping the specimen and for insurance authorization. When the results are available, the implications are explained to the patient.
- Physician Reports - Reports for physicians are generated to aid in development of surveillance or treatment plans for carriers of positive results, or to provide reassurance, if the results are negative. Additional specialty referrals may be recommended.
- Breast Cancer Services - Genetic counselors attend Tumor Board meetings and participate in the Breast Health Center’s services. A support group for carriers of BRCA1/2 gene mutations will be developed in the future.
- Professional and Community Education - Lectures are offered to medical professionals, as well as the community to provide up-to-date information on the role of genetics in cancer.