In May, superstar Angelina Jolie revealed she had both breasts removed because genetic testing showed she had a high risk for cancer. Every day, more and more people face similar decisions as genetic tests to assess the risk of breast, colon and ovarian cancer become more reliable, accessible and affordable. But for the very same reason, experts caution against using at-home tests or inadequately trained testing providers. The Commission on Cancer recommends genetic testing be performed only by board certified genetic counselors – professionals with graduate education, specialized training and board certification in genetics. Providers trained by labs marketing specific tests may not be fully informed and order the wrong test or misinterpret results. Individuals may also experience an invasion of genetic privacy if testing companies use their genetic information in an unauthorized way.
If you are concerned about a hereditary risk of cancer, consider Sarasota Memorial’s genetic education program – the only hospital-based genetic education and testing program in the region. Program coordinator and board certified genetic counselor Cathleen McCann, MS, CGC, provides genetic counseling and testing services for breast, ovarian, colon, pancreatic, prostate, melanoma and other cancer syndromes. Call (941) 917-2005 or visit our website for more information.