This article originally appeared in invision, a magazine
published for staff at UMass Memorial Medical Center.
Scientists, physicians and geneticists are in agreement - genetic screening
holds much promise in understanding a person's risk for developing cancer,
particularly for the five to 10 percent of patients whose cancer is due to
inherited abnormal genes or genetic mutations.
UMass Memorial expanded its focus on high-risk screening and now offers the
Cancer Prevention and Detection Program, a comprehensive approach to link
specific genes with specific cancers. This important program enhances
effectiveness for many of our oncology specialties, including breast, endocrine,
gastrointestinal, gynecologic, lung and genitourinary cancers.
Gary Stein, PhD, chair of the Department of Cell Biology, explained, "It is
now possible for patients to have their genes analyzed to learn whether they
carry a genetic mutation that is associated with increased cancer risk."
The program's genetic counselor works with patients and their families to
determine if genetic testing is right, teaches them how to reduce the risk of
developing cancer, devises a personal cancer surveillance program, and educates
them about current cancer treatment and research.
Many people seek out genetic screening if they have several relatives with
cancer or relatives that developed cancer before age 50. A family history of an
unusual or rare form of cancer is also a common reason for screening.
"We are proud to be part of this collaborative and multidisciplinary approach
to understanding cancer within families," said Beverly Hay, MD, chief of the
Division of Genetics. "This program allows for access to providers and testing
that cannot be achieved otherwise."