PicturePhoto by AZPM
Genetic counseling is a hot-button topic lately.

With Angelina Jolie’s recent New York Times Op-Ed and the Supreme Court’s ruling on gene patents dominating the headlines, many folks who previously knew very little about genetic testing want to know much more about the various procedures available.

Our friends at Arizona Public Media have done excellent work bringing this information to the public, thanks to their top-notch science reporting.

On Wednesday, AZ Illustrated ran an informative, illuminating story on what genetic testing means, and how it can benefit those patients with potential predispositions for cancer.
From AZPM.org: “Just a few decades ago, these families would have had few answers or options. But, now, a simple blood test or cheek swab can identify the genes or gene mutations that can create this potentially deadly risk.”
AZPM science reporter Gisela Telis spoke to University of Arizona Cancer Center genetic counselor Gail Martino, MS, CGC, and the UACC’s director of women’s cancers, Setsuko Chambers, MD, about what these advances in genetic testing can mean for the future of cancer treatment.
“We are able to give comprehensive care of these women from the start to the eventual outcome, so we do the diagnosis, the workup, the entire management, the surgery, we do the chemotherapy, and then we see the patient for years afterwards,” Chambers told AZPM. “So, it’s a very satisfying field. It’s difficult, it’s not simple, but it’s very satisfying.”
The UACC is the only cancer care facility in Tucson with certified genetic counselors. For people who have a strong family history of cancer, our multi-specialty team at the High-Risk Cacne can assess cancer risk, determine if genetic testing is appropriate, interpret testing results, and counsel regarding the options for cancer risk management. The UACC 
Read the full story and watch video from AZ Illustrated’s Wednesday night telecast here.

 

 
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Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the spotlight.

She’s been an A-list movie star for nearly two decades. She’s married to Brad Pitt, arguably the most famous actor of his generation. She’s graced the cover of every magazine. When she speaks, people listen.

So her Op-Ed in today’s New York Times obviously got people talking.

Jolie underwent a prophylactic mastectomy after finding that she is a carrier of an alteration in the BRCA1 gene. Her mother died of breast cancer at 56, and doctors estimated that Jolie had an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer.


Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.

Jolie’s essay is extremely powerful and illuminating. You should read the whole piece here.

For people who have a strong family history of cancer, our multi-specialty team at the University of Arizona Cancer Center can assess cancer risk, determine if genetic testing is appropriate, interpret testing results, and counsel regarding the options for cancer risk management. The UACC is the only cancer care facility in Tucson with certified genetic counselors.

To find out more, visit our web page or call (520) 694-0800. Read more about prophylactic mastectomy.

 

 
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In the fight against cancer, scientists are searching for every advantage they can find.

One of the most encouraging trends in cancer prevention has been the increased awareness and cutting-edge research seen in the field of genetic counseling.

On Wednesday, The Associated Press released a story detailing a “huge international effort involving more than 100 institutions and genetic tests on 200,000 people has uncovered dozens of signposts in DNA that can help reveal further a person’s risk for breast, ovarian or prostate cancer.”

The central idea is that if the world’s top scientists learn the mechanisms that lead to cancer, then in the not-so-distant future, “there may be genetic tests that help identify women with the most to gain from mammograms, and men who could benefit most from PSA tests and prostate biopsies.”

At the University of Arizona Cancer Center, our High-Risk Cancer Genetics Clinic is at the forefront of this global effort to identify and apply these genetic markers. Christina Laukaitis, MD, PhD, FACP, is an Assistant Professor in Internal Medicine and Medical Genetics. She explains what the UA Cancer Center is able to provide for these patients — specifically, services patients can’t find anywhere else in Arizona:


The UACC High-Risk Cancer Genetics Clinic performs personalized cancer risk evaluation based on genetic and non-genetic risk factors. We are the only clinic in the state to go beyond risk-assessment to help people to minimize their risk of developing and dying from cancer through long-term cancer risk management.

We maintain a long-term relationship with our high-risk patients, coordinating screening and prevention efforts and ensuring that we are implementing the most current evidence-based prevention strategies. Our multi-disciplinary team includes genetic counselors, medical and gynecologic oncologists, geneticists, surgeons, nurses, social workers and nutritionists and provides cancer prevention care for more than 300 patients with an elevated cancer risk.

• Scientists Find New Gene Markers for Cancer Risk (Associated Press, via ABCNews.com, March 27, 2013)
• High-Risk Cancer Genetics Clinic (ArizonaCancerCenter.org)