About Our Program
Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center Cancer Risk Assessment and Genetic Clinic provides individual counseling, risk assessment, genetic testing and surveillance to those individuals who have been identified as having an increased risk of cancer or those with a cancer diagnosis.
Our Genetic Nurse Practitioner’s are advanced registered nurse practitioners who specialize in oncology genetics, and cancer risk counseling. Their expertise meets the high standards of the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. They provide cancer risk assessment, genetic counseling and testing, referrals, and follow-up care for at-risk individuals.
The Cancer Risk Assessment Process Has Four Components
- Initial assessment – you meet with a cancer risk counselor to complete a thorough family history. Based on this history, you receive education about reducing your cancer risk factors and information regarding hereditary cancer syndromes. The benefits and risks of genetic testing, as well as possible test results are discussed at length.
- Genetic testing – if you choose to go forward with genetic testing, your cancer risk counselor will individualize your testing based on your family’s history. Test results typically take 2-4 weeks to be completed.
- Post-test education – results of genetic testing are usually given to you in person. Our cancer risk counselor will schedule an appointment with you to discuss the test results and to help you understand what this means for you and your family’s future.
- Ongoing support – your cancer risk assessment journey doesn’t end with an initial assessment or genetic test results. Whatever your cancer risk may be, we provide referrals for everything from lifestyle changes to appropriate medical providers. Our goal is to do everything we can to reduce your risk and that of your loved ones.
Are You at Risk?
If you are concerned about your personal or family history of cancer, a cancer risk assessment may be helpful. The following family history factors may be found in hereditary cancer:
- A family member diagnosed with cancer at an early age, usually under age 50.
- Multiple cases of the same type of cancer in a family; such as a mother, son, and grandfather all with colon cancer.
- A family member who develops two unique forms of cancer, such as breast cancer and melanoma.
- A known genetic abnormality in a family member.
A family history of cancer does not necessarily mean your risk for cancer is high. Through a cancer risk assessment we are able to help you understand your individual risk factors.
The Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center places the highest priority on maintaining our patients’ confidentiality. No one has access to your genetic information without your written consent.
If you choose to have genetic testing, most all health insurance companies cover part or all of the testing costs. Concerns about insurance coverage and genetic discrimination are also discussed prior to any testing.
Cancer and Genetics
Heredity can play an important role in the development of certain cancers. Medical research has increased our understanding of the link between genetics and cancer. We now know that certain types of cancer; such as melanoma, breast, ovarian, uterine, colon, pancreatic, stomach, and some endocrine tumors, are more likely to run in families.
Alterations, or mutations, in certain genes may increase a person’s risk of developing cancer over their lifetime. Genetics alone do not determine a person’s risk; many other factors influence the development of cancer, including diet, exercise, and exposure to environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke and tanning beds.
While genetic testing is a powerful tool in preventing cancer, it is not the only tool. Some people with a genetic risk may never develop cancer, while others without a genetic risk do. It is important to reduce your cancer risk in all areas of your life.
For more information please call the Community Cancer Center at (319) 558-4876. If you are scheduling a cancer risk assessment appointment, please download the form below, fill it out the best you can and bring it with you to your appointment.