Genetics Counseling helps patients decide whether to be tested for hereditary or gene-based cancer risk, and whether to take preventive measures through surveillance or prophilactic surgery

Genetics Counselor helps Sentara patients navigate cancer risks

Saliva versus blood makes process easier for patients

The growing use of saliva instead of blood in genetics testing is making it easier for patients concerned about hereditary cancer risk to be tested. Instead of going to a laboratory or doctor's office for a blood draw, patients can simply provide a saliva sample into a tube right in the genetics counselor's office.

Audrey Gregory, the genetics counselor with Sentara Medical Group and the Sentara Cancer Network can use personal and family histories to help patients decide whether to be tested for genetic links to breast, colon and gynecologic cancers. When results are back, Gregory can help patients decide on prevention or monitoring plans for cancers linked to genetics.

A molecular testing lab is one of the behind-the-scenes benefits for patients in the Sentara Cancer Network. Having an in-house molecular laboratory staffed by a board-certified Molecular Genetic Pathologist allows Sentara Laboratory Services to provide critical test results quickly. Additionally, the implementation of Next Generation Molecular Sequencing improves turnaround time by allowing the lab to analyze in parallel multiple genes in support of diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

The Sentara Cancer Network supports women's access to mammograms at age 40 in consultation with their physicians, or earlier based on personal experience, family histories or genetic factors. The network supports yearly mammograms for women aged 45 to 54 and encourages women over 55 to consult with their doctors about the frequency of screening. The Sentara Cancer Network is the only network program in Virginia accredited by the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer.