Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program
Objectives of Genetic Counseling
Five to ten percent of cancers are suspected to be due to inherited genetic mutations; therefore not everyone will necessarily benefit from genetic testing alone. A genetics evaluation by one of our genetics experts will help patients understand their risk to develop cancer, with or without genetic testing.
At the conclusion of the genetics evaluation, all patients are given a personalized care plan pertaining to their individual risk of cancer. This personalized care plan is designed to reduce your risk of cancer by providing you with screening and prevention recommendations.
Our genetics team, which includes genetic counselors, specially-trained medical oncologists and nurse specialists, will ask you about your family medical history, particularly about cancer and related medical conditions. We will use this information to help assess your need for genetic testing and your risk of developing cancer. PAMF’s genetic counselors are licensed by the California Department of Public Health and Certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
What is a genetic counselor?
Genetic counselors are master’s degree-trained health care professionals with specialized graduate degrees from accredited genetic counseling programs. Genetic counselors combine their knowledge of basic science, medical genetics, epidemiological principles, and counseling theory to provide patients with counseling for a variety of genetic or genomic indications.
What is cancer genetic counseling?
The majority of cancer is sporadic and occurs due to cancer-causing genetic mutations that happen over time. However, some people are born with a genetic mutation, usually inherited from their father or mother, which predisposes them to an increased chance of developing certain types of cancers.
The goal is to help patients recognize their risk for cancer by helping them understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. Genetic counselors work as members of a health care team, alongside medical oncologists to provide patients with a personalized and detailed care plan pertaining to their risk.
What does a genetic counselor do?
- Provides cancer risk and assessment based on personal and family history
- Educates patients about inheritance patterns, genetic testing, and research opportunities
- Coordinates genetic testing, when appropriate, to detect genetic mutations that elevate one’s cancer risk and promote informed decisions about genetic testing
- There are several testing options available. Patients work together with the genetics specialist to determine the most appropriate test for them.
- Provides support and resources for families with a hereditary cancer syndrome or a strong personal and/or family history of cancer
- Makes recommendations for cancer screening/prevention and management based on a genetic mutation and/or family history
Who can benefit from cancer genetic counseling?
- Anyone considering genetic testing for cancer risk, based on their personal or family history of cancer, should have counseling first so informed decisions can be made
- Individuals with a known hereditary cancer syndrome: either identified in them or in their family
- Anyone with prior genetic testing who would further like to further discuss his/her genetic test result
PAMF Genetics TeamGenetic Counselors
- Caroline Ghiossi, M.S., LCGC
- Katelyn Kobara, MS LCGC
- Lili Kuzmich, MS LCGC
- Lisa Moss, LCGC
- Marianne Vivien, MS LCGC
- Diane Zastrow, M.S., LCGC
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