When serious illnesses, such as heart disease or cancer, appear to “run in families,” it’s understandable to be concerned about one’s own risk. The medical community is continually learning more about how family history and genetics play a role in the likelihood of certain diseases. That’s why healthcare providers often choose to work with specially-trained genetic counselors to help customize and tailor a plan of care that includes disease prevention and early detection.
Genetics can be quite complex, as each individual case is unique and requires a significant commitment from healthcare providers. In fact, it can be difficult for a primary care physician to develop a personalized and detailed plan of care due to the complexity of some diseases. While routine exams consider family medical history, which provides information about the risk of specific health concerns, having relatives with a medical condition does not mean that an individual will likely develop that condition. Likewise, a person with no family history of a disorder may still be at risk, possibly due to exposure to risk increasing behavior, such as tobacco use or consumption of unhealthy foods.
Patients who choose to undergo genetic counseling are provided with personalized information regarding genetic influences, specific cancer risks and targeted screening and prevention options. With genetic counseling, patients not only learn about their own risk, but the potential risk for their children and other family members. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5-10% of cancers are hereditary. For people who are at risk of certain cancers, like breast or prostate cancer, genetic counseling may provide insight into the benefits of early screening. Doctors may also recommend dietary and lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking and regular exercise, to help people lower their risk of heart disease or other illnesses.
The Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HCA Midwest Health offers genetic counseling to women and men who have concerns about their personal and/or family history of cancer through a team that is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. Individuals are provided with personalized information regarding genetic influences, specific cancer risks and targeted screening and prevention options.
To find out if genetic counseling is right for you or your family, call (816) 751-3775 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Take a free Health Risk Assessment today to learn more about your risk breast cancer, colon cancer and heart disease. Share the results with your physician and take a step towards preventing future complications.
Watch a short video about genetic counseling at the Sarah Cannon Institute at HCA Midwest Health.