Genetic Counselor Kimberly Banks shares what a positive result on a genetic test reveals.
Genetic Counselor Kimberly Banks:
For women who test positive, what we go through during the results disclosure consultation is, we go over, “The test was positive. Here is the specific mutation. These are the cancer risks.” And then we go piece-by-piece for each individual cancer risk what their recommendations are in terms of increased surveillance. Are there medications that are available to reduce their cancer risk, are there preventive options?
So for some instances, we do talk about doing preventive surgeries to remove the at-risk body parts. That’s a case-by-case basis; it varies in terms of if it’s a recommendation versus an option. We go through that with the patient, go through all of the, “Here’s what you have to do, and here are your other options.” And then we document all of that in a consultation report that goes back to the physicians that are treating and managing the patient.
So the genetic counselor is not going to be involved in sending reminder cards of, “Okay, it’s time for your annual MRI or your annual colonoscopy.” We give all of those tools to the patients and their physicians for management. We often will get follow-up calls from patients if they have concerns or if they need a reminder, but it is going to be their primary care doctor or their OB/GYN or their gastroenterologist who is going to actually do the management.
Hereditary cancer is rare, so your physicians who are managing you, you may be their first case, or they may only have a handful. So you, the patient, the individual, the woman who has that genetic mutation needs to take some onus on reminding her physician and maintaining her education of what’s needed so that when she goes in for that annual physical to remind her physician, “Okay, you remember I have this genetic mutation. These are the things I am supposed to be doing.” So it’s a relationship between both parties, and the genetic counselor is available as a resource, but again, we are not going to take you from your physicians and manage you from here until eternity.
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: