Genetic Counselor Awareness Day
Genetic Counselor Awareness Day is dedicated to helping our community understand the important role that genetic counselors play in healthcare. Genetic counselors are professionals who have specialized education in genetics and counseling to provide personalized support to patients as they make decisions about their genetic health.
The Ridley-Tree Cancer Center’s Genetic Counseling Program located here in Santa Barbara has three genetic counselors on staff to help patients and families with a history of cancer better understand and manage their cancer risk. Although most cancer is not inherited, approximately 5 – 10% of people with cancer have a hereditary form, or a predisposition to cancer. Hereditary cancers occur because of a change (mutation) in certain genes. Pursuing genetic counseling may be especially beneficial to you and your family if:
- You or any of your relatives been diagnosed with cancer before the age of 50
- You or any of your relatives had more than one type of cancer (i.e. colon and endometrial cancer in the same person)
- You or any of your relatives had bilateral cancer (cancer in both breasts)
- You or any family members have rare cancers, such as ovarian cancer or male breast cancer
- The same type of cancer been diagnosed in two or more relatives
- Your family has a known hereditary cancer syndrome
- Your family history of cancer causes you to worry about the risk for you or your children
If genetic counseling is recommended for you, a first appointment will typically include: review of your personal and family history; assessment of your personal cancer risk; discussion of the role that genes play in the development of cancer; prevention strategies to reduce your cancer risk; information about the risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing; reassurance about confidentiality; support to make educated and informed decisions about genetic testing; and genetic testing facilitation, when appropriate.
Genetic testing for various inherited forms of cancer is also available at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center. Deciding whether or not to pursue testing is a personal choice that can be made at the time of the initial visit or at a future date. If you choose to undergo genetic testing, a blood or saliva sample will be taken and analyzed. Results are confidential and discussed thoroughly with the certified genetic counselor.
At the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, we understand that many factors must be considered when discussing cancer risk, including your personality, coping style, and your family’s experience with cancer. Our goal is to provide confidential information, reassurance and support to you and your family.
To learn more, please contact the Genetic Counseling Department at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center at (805) 879-5653.
About Ridley-Tree Cancer Center
Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of donors in our community, the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with Sansum Clinic recently opened a new world-class regional cancer center in Santa Barbara, and renamed the institution Ridley-Tree Cancer Center in honor of lead donor Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree. Ridley-Tree Cancer Center’s highly trained physicians and compassionate staff utilize the latest technology and protocols, and integrate patient support programs and classes to provide every opportunity for successful treatment, recovery and a healthy return to the activities that enrich life. The flagship Ridley-Tree Cancer Center in Santa Barbara extends its reach with offices in Lompoc and Solvang to provide patients in mid-Santa Barbara County access to the myriad of services offered, close to home.