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Genetic Education Can Help Assess Hereditary Breast/Ovarian Cancer Risk

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Oct/06/2011

An estimated three-quarters of a million Americans carry an inherited BRCA (breast/ovarian cancer) genetic mutation, but nearly 90 percent of these individuals don’t know about their risk.

If you are a woman and have a sister, mother, or aunt who died from breast or ovarian cancer, chances are you have thought to yourself ‘am I at risk?’ Although just 5-10 percent of all cancers are hereditary, experts agree that certain patterns of family history or genetic alterations passed from generation to generation can be important flags to take your cancer risk more seriously.

Taking a closer look at your family history is the first step to assessing your hereditary cancer risk and can be done with or without genetic testing. Sarasota Memorial Hospital offers the only hospital-based Genetic Education Program in the region. It’s board-certified genetic counselor (a master’s degree level clinician with special training in genetics) can help you review your family medical history, complete a personal cancer risk assessment and provide the most current research on hereditary cancers.

During your appointment, genetic counselors also will discuss the benefits, risks, limitations and costs of genetic testing. Sometimes genetic testing can help further define an individual’s hereditary cancer risk. Testing typically involves a blood test. Results are used to quantify your risks, develop cancer screening options, evaluate possible participation in optional clinical trials/research studies and make referrals to specialists and services that may be of help to you and your family.

“Knowing your cancer risk – and doing everything you can to lower it – could make a big difference for you, your family and your future healthcare decisions,” Cristi Radford, said Sarasota Memorial s Genetic Education Program Coordinator Cristi Radford, the only certified genetic counselor specializing in oncology between Tampa and Fort Myers. “If you are at risk for hereditary cancer, you and your doctor can take steps to reduce it, detect cancer in its most treatable stages – or better yet, possibly prevent it from occurring at all.”

Personal & Confidential

Deciding to pursue genetic testing is a personal decision and may have implications for your entire family. All visits, family information, results and counseling remains confidential. A physician referral is not required to participate in the program, but some insurance companies may require a referral in order to cover the cost of the service. For more information, call Sarasota Memorial’s Genetic Counseling Program at 917-2005.

Media Relations Contact: Kim Savage (941) 917-6271

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