(September 24, 2013) – Wondering whether you have a genetic predisposition to cancer? You may want to undergo genetic testing. If you do, genetic counselor Cassidi Kalejta will help you prepare for the test and the findings.
Kalejta, a genetic counselor at Inova Loudoun Hospital, consults with people who are deciding if they should get tested for genetic mutations that may predispose them to cancer. Nearly all of the cases involve people who are tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer genes.
“They need to be armed with information upfront,” she says. “The information could affect the entire family. Once they have the information, they can make the autonomous decision of whether to take the test for themselves. Some people ultimately elect not to do the testing.”
The issue of genetic testing has been in the spotlight recently after actress Angelina Jolie disclosed that she opted for a double mastectomy upon learning that she tested positive for a BRCA mutation.
“Everybody should be aware of his or her family history,” she advises. “It is wise to share information. It’s better to know than not to know. If you know you can do something.”
Can You Benefit From Genetic Counseling?
Cancer genetic counseling is helpful for individuals with a personal and/or family history of the following:
- Early-onset cancers, such as breast or colon cancer diagnosed before age 50
- Cancer in two or more first-degree relatives on the same side of the family
- Multiple primary tumors (examples: a woman with two primary breast cancers or a man with primary colon and stomach cancer)
- Bilateral or multiple rare cancers
- Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry, with a significant personal and/or family history of breast/ovarian cancer
Click to read this and other articles about Inova Loudoun Hospital in the Summer / Fall 2013 issue of INhealth magazine: