Genetic testing helps patients determine their level of risk
Years of research have linked everything from our diets to air pollution as risk factors for breast cancer. But medical officials are now trying to help patients determine their likelihood of being diagnosed through genetic testing.
Advocate Trinity’s new Genetic Cancer Risk program offers patients a window into that world. After receiving a mammogram, patients complete a questionnaire and, based on their answers, may be offered an opportunity for genetic testing. Though only five to 10 percent of breast cancers are linked to an inherited gene mutation, according to American Cancer Society, the test can help people make informed decisions about next steps. Counselors discuss the benefits of genetic testing with their patients, how to interpret the test results and help them find the best option.
“We really see a lot of value in people coming in for this test,” says Martha Lulinksi, a nurse navigator in the Oncology Center at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “This is a service that the community truly needs, and not many people know about, so we are happy to offer it.”
With programs at Trinity, Advocate South Suburban in Hazel Crest and Advocate Good Samaritan in Downers Grove, officials have seen the benefit firsthand. Before, patients were offered the genetic testing options, but referral locations were inconvenient, which often led to poor follow through by the patient.
“This is extremely helpful because patients can go to Trinity instead of going so far out of their way to get these treatments,” says Deborah Oleskowicz, a high risk genetic coordinator at Advocate Christ Medical Center. “We realized patients were being referred to hospitals further away.”
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