Genetic Counseling for Multiple Cancers Begins at Asante - Asante
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Published on September 17, 2013

Genetic Counseling for Multiple Cancers Begins at Asante

What if you could know your chances of getting cancer? What if knowing could save your life? Now you can and you can do it right here in Southern Oregon.

Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center began genetic testing and counseling for cancer on Sep. 16, 2013. Done in affiliation with Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), it is a specialized medical science that enables doctors to read a patient’s  genes to determine if any of several different cancers are in his or her future.

"This is not something that serves only a morbid curiosity about your future," Sue Kilbourne, clinical director of oncology said. "We believe this is going to help a lot of people. We all know that when you catch cancer in its early stages that outcomes are better."

A genetic cancer testing and counseling clinic is held twice a month at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center’s Infusion Services department.

This one hour telemedicine consultation takes place via a live video screen in a comfortable, private room. A geneticist or genetic counselor specializing in cancer genetics at OHSU review the patient’s personal family medical history and discusses options for preventing cancer and/or recommend further testing. Testing is relatively painless and involves collecting saliva from a mouthwash or mouth swab, or in some cases a simple blood draw.

Next, Jone Sampson, MD, a medical genetics specialist with OHSU, meets with the patient by video conference to discuss if steps to prevent cancer are recommended. If, after meeting with Dr. Sampson, the patient decides on a medical intervention, it can be provided locally at Asante Rogue Regional. How patients choose to handle the knowledge of genetic cancer risks is always up to them. Asante is here to guide them through the journey, offering expertise and compassion for whatever choices they make.

What is genetic counseling?

Some cancers, such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer, can run in the family. Genetic testing screens the body’s DNA for an inherited mutation in the gene strain, which can signal the likelihood of developing cancer down the road.

How it can help

When the mutation is detected, genetic counselors are able to guide a patient through a variety of options for preventing cancer or detecting it early enough to save his or her life.

If there is a family history of cancer, genetic counseling can help explain why cancer runs in the family and what one can do about it. When a person knows the risks, there is the option to choose proactive treatment for avoiding cancer, or frequent screenings to find it and fight it at the earliest stage.

Who benefits from genetic counseling

Most cancer is not inherited. Hereditary cancer accounts for about 5 to 10 percent of all cases. However, if someone in a family is

  • diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, such as ovarian cancer or male breast cancer
  • diagnosed with cancer at younger than age 50 or
  • diagnosed with multiple primary cancers

then inherited cancer may be a factor. Genetic counseling can help.

To learn more about genetic counseling or to schedule testing, talk with your primary care provider or call Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center  Infusion Services at 541-789-5006.

To learn more, visit Genetic Counseling at

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Lauren Van Sickle
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As the largest health care provider in nine counties, Asante provides comprehensive medical care to more than 600,000 people throughout southern Oregon and northern California. Our facilities include Asante Ashland Community Hospital in Ashland, Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass, Asante Physician Partners and additional health care partnerships throughout the region.