Markey Center Offers Genetic Counseling

Contact: Jill Holder

 

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The Markey Cancer Center Clinical Genetic Counseling Program is the only program in Lexington and the surrounding region that offers genetic consultation by a certified genetic counselor.

For more information about the Markey Cancer Center, go to the Web site. For more information about genetic counseling or to schedule an appointment, call (866) 340-4488 or (859) 257-4488.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 3, 2004) -- Health care professionals at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center announced today that genetic counseling for cancer patients and their families is now available in Central Kentucky. The UK Markey Cancer Center Clinical Genetic Counseling Program currently provides genetic counseling services for families with multiple cases of cancer.

“Genetic counseling is part of our team approach to cancer treatment,” said Alfred Cohen, M.D., professor of surgery and director of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center. “Our multidisciplinary team members work together to evaluate and treat patients to provide a comprehensive treatment plan. The Clinical Genetic Counseling Program will allow us to test and diagnose potential at-risk family members.”

Genetic counseling provides individuals who may be predisposed to cancer the opportunity to review clinical management options for themselves and for potentially at-risk family members. A specially trained genetic counselor, in conjunction with a medical oncologist, will provide a personalized assessment of hereditary cancer risk and discuss cancer detection and risk reduction options. Genetic testing is offered when appropriate.

The most common indication for cancer genetic counseling is a family history of breast cancer. In some families, women can inherit a genetic mutation which causes hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome, which is characterized by an increased risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Women who have a family history of breast cancer in two or more close relatives, especially if the cancers were diagnosed before age 50, have an increased chance that hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome runs in the family. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer as well have an even higher chance that they will be at risk for this syndrome.

“Inheriting a gene with a mutation for breast cancer does not mean that cancer will develop,” said Edward Romond, M.D., associate professor of medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, UK College of Medicine. “However, someone who has the gene with a mutation has a higher breast cancer risk than someone without the mutation.”

Genetic testing involves laboratory analysis of a sample of blood to determine if a person has inherited a genetic mutation. The decision to pursue genetic testing depends largely on the extent of the family history of cancer, as well as the potential impact of genetic testing on the medical management of patients and their family members. The cost of genetic testing depends on which gene is being analyzed. Many insurance companies will cover at least part of the cost of genetic testing if the test is medically indicated.

Genetic testing is one tool used to determine cancer risk during the genetic counseling process. Genetic counseling involves more than obtaining informed consent for genetic testing and interpretation of genetic test results. Even if genetic testing is not performed, genetic counselors can use personal and family medical history to estimate cancer risk. In addition to communicating complex medical information to patients, genetic counselors help patients and their families cope with the emotional, medical, social and financial effects of hereditary cancer risk, and help patients and their physicians develop effective screening and prevention programs.

"Genetic counselors combine the science of genetics with the human side of counseling,” said Heather Pierce, Ph.D., director, Clinical Genetic Counseling Program, UK Markey Cancer Center. “Certified genetic counselors are trained to address the medical and psychological aspects of the genetic counseling process.”

Pierce is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.

The Markey Cancer Center Clinical Genetic Counseling Program is the only program in Lexington and the surrounding region that offers genetic consultation by a certified genetic counselor.

For more information about the Markey Cancer Center, go to the Web site. For more information about genetic counseling or to schedule an appointment, call (866) 340-4488 or (859) 257-4488.


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