Genetic Counselor Kimberly Banks shares how a woman can advocate for herself if she thinks she needs genetic testing.
Genetic Counselor Kimberly Banks:
For a patient, for a woman who has concerns about her personal or family history of cancer, the first thing you need to do is bring that up to your physician, specifically raise that this is the history in your family. These are the members who have had cancer, these are their approximate ages, and tell your physician that that history concerns you, and you want to be proactive about it.
Question if genetic testing and genetic risk assessment is appropriate. The physician may say that because of the ages, or for whatever reason, it’s not appropriate, and you are always allowed to ask for follow-up. “Can you explain a little bit more as to why it’s not appropriate?” The physician may say, “Not sure, might be appropriate; might not,” or might say, “Yeah, I really agree. I think you should see someone,” and then you ask to be referred to a genetic cancer risk assessment specialist.
And, where we work that’s provided by genetic counselors and so, we have referrals that are faxed in, they are called in. If your physician doesn’t have someone to refer to, or doesn’t want to refer you, you can always go to the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ website, or you can search for a genetic counselor in your area.
At least a couple of times a month, I’ll get a phone call from a woman who said, “You know, I am not sure if I need to come see you. Can you make a recommendation?” And we’ll spend a little bit of time on the phone reviewing that history, and we’ll recommend, saying, “You know, for whatever reason, the ages, the distance from you, your family doesn’t look like they would need genetic cancer risk assessment,” Or we will say, “We agree, we think you should come in. We are local or we’ll find someone who is local to you.” So there’s a lot of ways to come in--direct referral, self-referral, things like that.
About Kimberly Banks, M.S., C.G.C.:
Kimberly Banks, M.S., C.G.C., is the Program Coordinator and a Genetic Counselor at The Cancer Genetics Program in The Center For Cancer Prevention and Treatment at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California. Kimberly received her master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from California State University, Northridge, and conducted her fellowship at City of Hope National Medical Center. She is board certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
Visit Kimberly Banks at St. Joseph Hospital Cancer Genetics Program: