Prevention is always preferable to treatment – and, when it comes to cancer, genetic screening and counseling are valuable, often life-saving tools. A risk for cancer can be inherited in that the genetic mutations (changes) can trigger development of precancerous or cancerous cells. For certain types of cancer, genetic testing can help predict the odds you will develop the disease; genetic counseling by trained professionals helps interpret the results so you can arrive at an informed decision on the steps you want to take to prevent cancer.

Genetic testing and counseling is generally suggested for patients who meet the following criteria; whether or not to go through with the process is up to you.

  • You have a close family member (parent, sibling, aunt or uncle or first cousin) with a known inherited gene mutation, including BRCA1 or BRCA2
  • Two or more of your close family members have had the same type of cancer
  • Several generations of your family have had the same type of cancer
  • You were diagnosed with breast, colon or uterine cancer before age 50 or ovarian cancer at any age
  • You were diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, such as male breast cancer or sarcoma

How Genetic Testing Works

The first appointment involves meeting with our genetic counselor, Raluca N. Kurz, MS, LCGC, and filling out a detailed questionnaire. The test itself consists of a blood or saliva test to obtain samples of your DNA. These are analyzed in a lab and sent back. You will have an opportunity to discuss your results with the genetic counselor, who can help you understand your options.

What Next?

Using your genetic test results, you and your doctor can collaborate on a plan of action designed to help you stay healthy. Options may include lifestyle change, taking medication or, in certain cases, surgical procedures.

For More Information

Please contact Cancer Resource Center for additional information regarding Genetic Testing and Counseling by calling 310-517-7077.

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Dave Hemmah

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