Our knowledge of hereditary cancer genetics is rapidly advancing, as new information is being discovered at an accelerated pace. Consulting with an expert who is knowledgeable in cancer genetics is the best way to ensure information received is up-to-date and credible.
Some have specific high-risk clinics or programs that are devoted to risk assessment and risk management. In addition to geneticists and genetic counselors, these programs offer access to oncologists trained in management of hereditary cancer risks.
Cancer genetic counselors, geneticists, and risk assessment counselors are health care providers who are specialists in hereditary diseases. They can help individuals more clearly understand their risk for hereditary cancer. Geneticists are physicians with specialized expertise in hereditary diseases. Certified genetic counselors are health care professionals who have had specialized training and have earned a Master's degree in genetic counseling. The National Society of Genetic Counselors website offers a lookup tool for finding a certified genetic counselor by state and specialty (to find a genetic counselor who specializes in cancer genetics, choose "cancer" under the options "Area of Practice/Specialization"). Some healthcare facilities do not have genetic counselors on staff and for some people traveling to another facility is not possible.
A company called InformedDNA provides genetic counseling consultations by telephone with board-certified genetic counselors.
The Gene Tests website which is maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, offers a searchable database for locating genetics clinics by area of specialization and by state, zip-code, or professional affiliation.
Other healthcare providers such as nurses or oncologists may offer genetic counseling and testing. The amount of training these healthcare providers have received in the area of cancer genetics may vary; consequently their ability to provide comprehensive genetic counseling and interpretation of test results may also vary. It is important to know the qualifications of the person providing your genetic counseling. The National Cancer Institute has a lookup tool for healthcare providers offering genetic counseling and testing. This tool also provides information on the certification of the providers listed.
Although an experienced gynecologist can manage the gynecologic care of most women, those who are at high risk for ovarian cancer need a gynecologic specialist familiar with specific diagnostic, screening or prevention protocols for high-risk women. Many facilities refer high-risk women to specialists known as gynecologic-oncologists: although these specialists often treat ovarian cancer, they are also trained in screening for ovarian cancer, spotting abnormalities that might indicate cancer, are familiar with the high-risk protocol which should be followed for prophylactic surgery and can perform full staging if a cancer is found. You can find a gynecologic-oncologist near you through the website for the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.
Many high-risk clinics, such as those listed below, have a "multi-disciplinary" approach to managing high-risk patients: the radiologist, breast surgeon, breast oncologist, and gynecologic-oncologist consult together in one facility to determine the best care for their high-risk patients.
Alberta Cancer Genetics Program (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
Baylor Cancer Genetics Clinic (Houston, TX)
The Breast Health Program at B.C. Women's Hospital and Health Centre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
Cancer Genetics Clinic at New England Medical Center (Boston, MA)
Cancer Genetics Program at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (Chapel Hill, NC)
The Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at the Yale Cancer Center (New Haven, CT)
The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (New Brunswick,NJ)
Cancer Risk Program at the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center (San Francisco, CA)
Dorcy Cancer Center at St. Mary-Corwin (Pueblo, CO)
Elliott Hospital (Manchester, NH)
Familial Breast Cancer Clinic at the Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Familial Cancer Program (Burlington, VT)
Hereditary Cancer Program at UCONN Health Center and High Risk Clnic (West Hartford, CT)
Hereditary Cancer Program: BC Cancer Agency (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
Jefferson Hereditary Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia, PA)
Lahey Clinic's Breast Center (Peabody, MA)
Norris Cotton Cancer Center Familial Cancer Program (Lebanon, NH)
Penrose Cancer Center -- Hereditary Cancer Service (Colorado Springs, CO)
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Cancer Prevention Clinic (Seattle, WA)
St. Vincent Hospital -- Genetics (Green Bay, WI)
Stanford Cancer Genetics Clinic (Stanford, CA)
UCLA Department of Human Genetics (Los Angeles, CA) This page includes information about UCLA's Familial Cancer Clinic. UCLA also offers resources such as the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and The Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center (University of California at San Francisco)
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