FHN Introduces Genetic Risk Assessment and Testing Program

Freeport, Illinois — Why one person develops cancer and another doesn’t isn’t always known. But research has shown that certain risk factors may increase a person’s chances for developing cancer.

Some of the risk factors can be controlled, like exposure to certain chemicals or behaviors such as tobacco use. Other factors are beyond our control, like our age, personal health history and our family history.

In an effort to help individuals and healthcare professionals evaluate risk, make more informed decisions and take a personalized, proactive response approach to patient care, the FHN Women’s Diagnostic Center is introducing its new Screening and Risk Assessment Program.

“The program is designed to assist people with a strong personal or family history of cancer better understand their own risk of developing certain cancers,” said FHN Women’s Diagnostic Care Center Care Navigator Amy Bollon. “It allows people to be more empowered in their healthcare decisions based on the benefits of genetic testing.”

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, US Preventative Services Task Force, and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have all provided guidance regarding the importance of further risk assessment based on a patient’s personal and/or family history of cancer. Individuals found to have a hereditary cancer syndrome or an elevated risk for certain cancers may be candidates for increased surveillance or other prevention options.

Patients will be introduced to the program when they visit the Women’s Diagnostic Center for their annual mammogram. A simple questionnaire will be offered to get the information needed to discuss cancer risk and determine if there are any red flags in the personal or family health history.

Indicators may include multiple cancers on the same side of the family, any one cancer diagnosed at age 50 or younger or a rare cancer such as ovarian or male breast cancer at any age. The patient will then meet with the Care Navigator to discuss the benefits of hereditary cancer testing and be offered the myRisk Hereditary Cancer Panel test, a simple blood test.

The myRisk Hereditary Cancer Panel consists of 28 genes that impact inherited risks for eight cancers including breast, ovarian, gastric, colorectal, pancreatic, melanoma, prostate, and endometrial. The patient’s panel results are typically available in 2 to 3 weeks, at which time the Care Navigator will personally review each patient’s results. If the results indicate that additional screenings or medical management is recommended, the patient will be scheduled to meet with FHN Ob/Gyn Ruhee Sidhu, MD, to discuss next steps, recommendations and management plans.

A copy of the results, along with national guideline recommendations, will be shared with the patient’s healthcare provider and included in the patient’s electronic medical record to assist in further screening management for high-risk patients. Patients who desire or are in need of referrals to specialists or additional resources will have the guidance and support provided by the team at FHN to help navigate the network of comprehensive services and programs available at FHN and beyond.

The objective of the FHN Screening and Risk Assessment Program is to empower, educate, and provide resources to patients who can benefit from genetic testing. For more information about the program, visit www.fhn.org or call 815-599-6421.

FHN, a not-for-profit organization with nearly 1,400 employees, is an award-winning regional healthcare system committed to the health and well-being of the people of northwest Illinois and southern Wisconsin. FHN Memorial Hospital has been recognized as one of the state’s top hospitals for safety by the Leapfrog group and Healthgrades as well as by the world’s largest, completely independent, non-profit product- and service-testing organization. FHN caregivers serve an average of 1,500 people each day across FHN’s 22 locations in 5 counties spanning northwest Illinois. Organized in 1995 as an integrated healthcare delivery system, FHN is comprised of FHN Memorial Hospital, the Leonard C. Ferguson Cancer Center, 13 family healthcare centers offering primary and specialty medical care, hospice, occupational and chiropractic health services, dental care and outpatient mental health services. For more information about FHN, please visit www.fhn.org.

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