The Emory University Cancer Genetics Program has received a $50,000 grant from the Greater Atlanta Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation to provide genetic testing and counseling for patients at high risk for hereditary breast cancer who are uninsured, under-insured, or have Medicaid.
"What we're able to do through this grant is cover the cost of testing for people who would not otherwise have access to testing," says Christine Stanislaw MS, a certified genetic counselor with the Emory Cancer Genetics Program. "There is a huge need for this kind of service and we're thrilled to be able to provide this at Emory.
Researchers estimate that only about 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer is hereditary. People who may want to consider genetic counseling and testing include women with one or more close relatives (mother, sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces, or grandmothers) with breast cancer diagnosed before age 50; those with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer or male breast cancer; women with breast cancer diagnosed under age 50; women who have had more than one breast cancer diagnosis or both breast and ovarian cancer; and men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The Cancer Genetics Program at Emory provides patients with comprehensive and current information about hereditary cancer risk and guidelines for cancer screening. Through one-on-one consultation with a genetic counselor, patients can share their concerns about the cancer history in their family and receive personalized risk assessment and information about genetic testing options. If a patient decides to pursue genetic testing, they receive their results at a follow-up visit. Genetic testing for cancer is typically performed on a blood sample.
Some patients who are at risk for hereditary breast cancer may choose to have a blood test, called BRACAnalysis. The test is specifically looking for mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes that cause most cases of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. This test is provided by only one company in the United States--Myriad Genetic Laboratories. The cost of the test is about $3,120, most of which is usually covered by insurance for patients determined to be at high risk.
Test results come back in about three to four weeks. Stanislaw says that with this information, women ultimately learn more about their risk for cancer and can then decide with their physicians which medical management steps to take. Women who are found to have gene mutations will typically have more frequent screening for breast and ovarian cancer and begin screening at younger ages than women in the general population.
For more information about Emory's Cancer Genetics Program, visit its website at http://www.genetics.emory.edu.
To schedule an appointment or to request additional information, call (404) 778-8549.