At your appointment, the counselor will ask you questions about your family’s health history and your medical history. Here is some information that will help the genetic counselor work with you:
• He/She will ask about your own cancer experience, including type(s), part of the body affected and age of diagnosis.
• Have any other members of your family had cancer and what type of cancer did they have? Different types of cancer can run in families. To better understand your cancer family history, you should bring any medical records or pathology reports related to your or your family’s cancers or cancer treatment, if possible.
• What was the age of diagnosis for members of the family with cancer? Generally, the younger a person is when a cancer occurs, the more likely she or he is to have a form of cancer that runs in the family.
• It may be helpful to talk with your family about whether or not anyone has had genetic testing.
Not all predispositions to cancer can be identified by a genetic test. Even if a genetic test is available for a certain type of cancer, genetic testing is not helpful for all individuals.
Approximately one-third of cancer patients seek out complementary and alternative medicine. There are no proven cures for cancer in alternative medicine, but there are therapies that are proven to help with symptoms and side effects. I encourage people to use the best of both worlds — evidence-based treatments within conventional medicine as well as complementary medicine.
The complementary medicine treatments with the best evidence and fewest risks are the mind-body therapies and acupuncture. However, herbal medicines and vitamins should not be used without a physician’s guidance since they can interact with chemotherapy.
There are many types of mind-body therapies including yoga, tai chi, meditation, breathing exercises, guided imagery, relaxation training, prayer, music therapy and hypnosis. Many of these have been shown in clinical studies to help reduce stress and fatigue, improve the immune system, and help with sleep and mood. We offer many classes such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, guided imagery and diaphragmatic breathing to help people explore these techniques. Read here for a list of fall classes that are offered through Affinity Health System. Continue Reading »
Why see a cancer genetic counselor?
Some types of cancer run in families, which presents future generations with a higher risk of having those cancers. If you’ve had cancer at a young age, had two or more separate cancers or have several family members who have battled cancer, you may want to think about genetic counseling and perhaps genetic testing.
A cancer genetic counselor will evaluate your family health history and talk about risks for inherited cancer, as well as screening and management for those at increased risk. If genetic testing is available, the counselor will tell you about the tests and help you decide if testing would be valuable to you.
If you have had cancer, genetic testing may be useful to you and your medical team for making decisions about cancer management.
If you have not had cancer, these assessments can help you understand your risk for cancer and the risks for other members of the family. Continue Reading »
The goal of genetic counseling is to help you learn more about the causes of genetic conditions (an illness caused by abnormalities in genes or chromosomes) and how they affect you.
As a genetic counselor, I can review your family and medical histories and figure out if you or your family members are at risk for disease. I can also offer information about genetic conditions and explain how they are passed down through families. As a genetic counselor, I will provide materials about testing options and give professional recommendations and guidance so that you can make informed choices or life plans. If it is found that you have a condition, I can direct you towards medical specialists, advocacy groups, support networks as well as any other resources you might need so that you can make the best decision for you and your family. Continue Reading »
Medical oncologists and radiation oncologists work side by side to treat patients diagnosed with cancer and help them maintain the best quality of life possible throughout the treatment process.
The difference between radiation oncologists and medical oncologists can be boiled down to treatment of specific areas versus treatment of the entire body. Radiation oncologists focus on destroying cancerous cells in specific target areas on the body, mostly using radiation therapy. Medical oncologists, on the other hand, work at treating the entire body using whatever medicines are best deemed for that type of cancer depending on the stage it’s at.
As a medical oncologist, I start my work right away when it is discovered that a patient has cancer. Typically, I meet with a radiation oncologist and a surgeon and together we figure out which treatment plan will best attack the cancer. We also talk to the patient about his or her type of cancer, the different options that are available to fight it and how effective those methods are. Continue Reading »