A new service at Pulaski Community Hospital will help identify those predisposed to cancer and other genetic disorders to help stop health problems before they develop.
PCH, and three other centers with HCA Virginia Health System, have opened a Department of Clinical Genetics that will offer genetic counseling for cancers such as breast, colon, ovarian, uterine, pancreatic and skin. In the near future, the department will offer maternal-fetal counseling for common genetic disorders such as Down syndrome, sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis.
Patients with identified mutations in specific genes are at higher risks for developing certain cancers. If mutations are identified, additional preventive measures may be available for the patient.
“If we know a patient’s risk level, we can use that information to help them prevent cancer and take advantage of the appropriate screening options based on his or her risk level,” said Bui. “We will offer a personalized, compassionate approach to help patients deal with both the technical and emotional aspects of their cancer risk.”
Approximately five to 10 percent of all cancers are hereditary according to the National Cancer Institute. The risk of an inherited cancer is increased if a patient or close family member is diagnosed with the disease at an unusually young age, such as colon or uterine cancer diagnosed under the age of 50.
The risk of inheriting cancer is also more likely if three or more family members have the same or related cancers, a family history of rare tumors or uncommon cancers, or if an individual has more than five to 10 colon polyps.
Kara Bui, a certified genetic counselor with more than six years of experience in genetic counseling in the Roanoke Valley, will lead the new department.
Although Genetic Testing and Counseling is available at PCH, Bui primarily is based out of Lewis-Gale medical Center.
Patients interested in more information may call (540) 776-4963.