Importance of Cancer Genetic Screening for Cancer Treatment

Cancer Genetics at Comprehensive

Cancer genetic risk assessment is an important tool offered at Comprehensive Cancer Centers. Inherited cancers account for approximately five to 10 percent of all cancers. And nearly 50,000 newly diagnosed cancers can be attributed to an inherited gene.

Cancer Genetics 101:

Our bodies are made up of billions of cells which contain DNA. Our DNA is made up of genes, which you inherit from your mother and father.  According to the Genetic Support Foundation, our genes provide the instructions to build proteins for everything we need to grow and function.

One of those important functions is regulating how quickly cells grow and divide. Since cancer starts when cells begin to grow and divide out of control, it is important to identify individuals and families that have cancer susceptibility genes. By identifying susceptibility, we can be more aware of certain risks and identify treatment options before a cancer occurs.

Not everyone with a cancer gene will develop cancer, but their risk is greatly increased. Many people with these genes develop cancer at younger ages than the rest of the population. Genetic testing for those who are at high risk is now highly recommended and is becoming more of an expectation in oncology.

What if I have a family history of cancer?

It is important to know if you or your family members have a hereditary predisposition to cancer, as there are now options to reduce the risk of getting cancer. Management care plans can include specific cancer screening exams, medications and/or preventative surgery. Treatment options are tailored to an individual’s risks and lifestyle. If possible, the best person in the family to test is the person who already has cancer.

What happens during a genetic risk assessment?

Your family history is the foundation for a risk assessment and the basis for identifying those people who are at an increased risk for developing certain cancers. Both your mother’s and father’s history will be obtained as well as histories for your aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings and your children. We want to know who has had cancer, what type of cancer they were diagnosed with and how old they were when they were diagnosed. These histories will determine whether further discussion or genetic testing for a hereditary cancer syndrome is indicated.

If it is determined that testing is recommended, education on cancer genetics and hereditary syndromes will be provided. Counseling is another necessary step in the process and is critical to helping you make informed decisions about testing.

You will be provided with information on the specific test being performed, what the results mean, the psychological implications of test results, confidentiality issues, options for risk estimation without genetic testing, the risk of passing a gene mutation to a child, fees involved in testing, options and limitations of medical surveillance and strategies for prevention after testing and the importance of sharing your genetic test results with at-risk relatives.

How is the actual test performed?

The genetic testing performed in our office requires saliva (buccal) sampling. It is a simple procedure and takes only minutes. An oral rinse process obtains the DNA from the lining of your mouth, which is then processed in the laboratory for analysis.

How much does a genetic risk assessment cost?

Most insurance carriers cover genetic testing for hereditary cancer. A majority of patients have no out-of-pocket costs if their deductibles have been met. You can contact your insurance plan directly to determine the current status of your own deductible.

How do I get my results?

We will schedule a follow-up appointment two to three weeks after you have been tested to review your results. We will offer guidance on how to share the results with family members and how your test results may affect them. There are many medical management options available to those who test positive and you will be referred to the appropriate provider for follow up.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

Cancer genetic nurse practitioner, Barbara Caldwell, MSN, APRN, is one of only nine healthcare professionals in Nevada to receive their training from an intensive cancer genetic risk assessment program at City of Hope. She offers a thorough consultation and can put together a comprehensive medical care plan tailored to the individual and their family. Comprehensive Cancer Centers offers cancer genetic counseling services at the following locations:

  • Central Valley
    3730 S. Eastern Avenue
    Las Vegas, NV 89169
  • Northwest
    7445 Peak Drive
    Las Vegas, NV 89128
  • Southwest
    9280 W. Sunset Road Suite 100
    Las Vegas, NV 89148
  • Horizon Ridge Henderson
    2460 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy
    Henderson, NV 89052

Call 702-730-1746 to schedule an appointment or visit our website: https://www.cccnevada/cancer-genetic-counseling for more information.

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.