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Your Options if Family History Points to Cancer

POSTED BY: Leslie Bradley

Would you like to know your risk of cancer and stop it before its ever diagnosed?

Advancements in cancer research and clinical trials are happening every day, but one in particular will mean more to all of us who have ever wondered if we will be one of the 44 percent in the United States that will be diagnosed with cancer.  Early detection is the key to surviving cancer, but this advancement could find risk early and allow for preventative measures to decrease your risk altogether.

This advancement in cancer research is genetic testing and genetic counseling. Since approximately five to 10 percent of cancers have a hereditary component, using this genetic research is becoming extremely important.  According to Florida Hospital Cancer Institute’s Genetic Counselor, Nefertari Donerson, MS, “There are hundreds of genetic mutations to consider when trying to find cancer links, so if we know the patients family history of cancer prior to genetic testing,  we can more accurately determine which genetic mutations we are trying to pinpoint.” 

With some hereditary risks, the patient can be put into a hereditary cancer syndrome category, which would put them automatically at risk for certain types of cancer. One example is a female who has been previously diagnosed with breast cancer, prior to age 35 and has a family history of breast and ovarian cancer; she might be linked to a hereditary cancer syndrome called Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Syndrome.

Patient’s options, if there is a calculated risk, could include but are not limited to: genetic counseling, preventative treatments, such as pharmaceuticals, routine check-ups and testing, and surgery. Insurance companies are becoming aware of how valuable this research is as well. In the last few years, they have started to cover more of this testing and counseling to determine cancer risk. Once a patient meets with a genetic counselor, if testing is recommended, the counselor can walk a patient through which testing is appropriate and how often it is needed. Testing can include blood test or radiology imaging to watch for any changes in the patient. Our staff at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute will work through your insurance to determine what is covered for this type of preventative testing.

So, now that you know, what’s in your family history? Find out your risk today by completing this form or contacting our Genetic Counselor at (855)-303-DOCS (3627).