Virginia Cancer Specialists
“We save lives because, as we identify individuals at high risk, we can manage patients much more effectively.”
In the medical profession, knowledge is power. The earlier a patient and physician have access to critical information, the better the potential health outcomes.
Virginia Cancer Specialists’ Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment Program collects vital information about patients’ cancer risk, long before they may actually develop the disease. Their genetic testing allows them to determine whether an individual might have a predisposition to certain cancers.
This is particularly useful in helping women assess their chances of facing breast or ovarian cancer. Armed with this knowledge, patients and their doctors—together with Virginia Cancer Specialists’ team of genetic counselors—can plot an appropriate course of action, be it more aggressive screening or preventative surgery. As more targeted drugs come into the market, doctors are able to use genetic information obtained for treatment purposes.
“While I have made a career of working with patients who are fighting cancer, this is about prevention,” says Dr. Patricia Rodriguez. “That’s what makes it so special.”
Approximately 5% to 10% of cancers are inherited. Early genetic detection benefits not only the patient, but their family as well. “If we find something concerning in a patient, we will start screening their family members much sooner,” says Dr. Rodriguez. “We are able to make educated decisions about them, and any future health challenges they may face.”
Recent advances have made genetic screening an even more valuable tool. “We used to test for one or two genes, but now we test for gene panels consisting of 20 to 30 genes,” explains Dr. Rodriguez. “We are able to find many more indicators we may not have expected—it makes a huge difference.”