Carroll Hospital offers genetic counseling services for those who have recently been diagnosed with cancer and for those who are at risk for the disease.
Genetic testing is available for all types of cancer, with a special focus on breast, pancreatic, ovarian and colorectal cancers, says Mary Peloquin, manager of community health and wellness.
Individuals may receive genetic counseling through the hospital’s partnership with GeneScreen at the Tevis Center for Wellness or from breast surgeon Dona Hobart, M.D., F.A.C.S., medical director of the Center for Breast Health, who has advanced training in genetics and genomics from Stanford University.
After an individual has been referred by a physician, the genetic counselor collects comprehensive personal and family history, performs a risk assessment and provides information about the testing before it takes place. After the test is complete, the genetic counselor provides support to the participant and explains the results, risks, options and next steps in coordination with the individual’s physician.
More and more individuals are getting genetic testing, says Dr. Hobart. “It’s a balance of risk factors,” she says. “We look at their family history, and there are certain factors that will identify families at high risk for what we call a ‘hereditary cancer syndrome.’ There are cancers that run in families, and we don’t know why.”
Typically, risk factors for those with hereditary cancers include having multiple family members with a particular type of cancer and having a family member who has been diagnosed with cancer at age 50 or younger.
Knowing your family history also can help determine what types of health screenings to get and when. “If you are an individual at risk for colorectal cancer, you’d get colonoscopies more often,” Dr. Hobart explains. “If you’re at risk for stomach cancer you’d get endoscopies more often.”