To someone with a family history of cancer, a possible diagnosis can feel like a game of chance or roll of the genetic dice. "What are my odds of developing cancer?" and "How can I prevent this?" are common questions to consider.
According to Nancy Cohen, a certified genetic counselor at Northern Westchester Hospital, there are answers to these questions. More importantly, through genetic testing, there may also be lifesaving measures to be taken.
"It’s really important for a patient to fully understand what they can learn from doing genetic testing before deciding to do that test," said Cohen. "I see patients for genetic counseling who either have a cancer diagnosis themselves or have a family history of cancer."
In general, candidates for genetic counseling fall into two categories: those who have a personal and/or family history of a hereditary cancer syndrome, or those who are especially concerned about their risk of developing cancer, but do not have personal or family indicators.
What makes Northern Westchester Hospital unique is that care doesn't end after the results from a genetic test come in—in fact, that's just the beginning. "If after genetic testing a patient is found to have a hereditary cancer syndrome, I know that I can find the physicians here at Northern Westchester Hospital to help guide that patient through the various aspects of his or her care."
Watch the video above to hear Nancy Cohen explain how genetic counselors play a key role in the process of genetic testing.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a genetic counselor, call (914) 242-7649 or read several FAQ via Northern Westchester Hospital's website.