Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Genetic Counselor Available for Interview
Interpreting the linkage between genetic test results and family health history
Learning one’s genetic and family history is very popular now, but what if the results include an increased risk of cancer? More than ever, access to a health care professional knowledgeable in providing personalized counseling in the context of one’s genetic information, personal and family medical history is of utmost importance.
For a range of cancer types, family history can present an increased risk but not everyone knows the full extent of their relative’s health histories. Determining whether genetic testing is the right for them, is a decision where a genetic counselor can lend perspective. Dr. Mercy Laurino, MS, LCGC, a licensed and certified genetic counselor with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, is the most recent recipient of the International Leader Award from the National Society of Genetic Counselors. She is available for interview.
Clinical genetic testing is important for interpreting how health results could impact their future care in the context of family medical history. It is increasingly incorporated by healthcare systems and teams into patient care. As such, it is important for patients and healthcare providers to have access to genetic counseling experts. A native of the Philippines, Dr. Laurino is the founder of a Professional Society of Genetic Counselors in Asia (www.psgca.org) that is affiliated with the Asia Pacific Society of Human Genetics. Laurino was recently invited to the Philippines to further lead initiatives to enhance genetic counselors training and implementing programs with support of the local medical geneticists and genetic counselors. “This trip continued my commitment to enhance partnership opportunities, transparency, and access of clinical genetic counseling services in the Philippines,” she shared.
Knowing a patient has a particular genetic mutation helps doctors choose the best treatment plan, including access to a range of immunotherapy and innovative clinical trial options. Genetic testing can also help doctors devise a more personalized cancer screening and prevention strategy for cancer patients who are deemed at increased risk for other cancers and their family members noted to carry the familial cancer gene mutation. To illustrate, if a person is found to have a mutation in a cancer risk gene, such as BRCA2, this information helps guide their future cancer treatment and prevention/screening options for cancers they are at risk for, and has important implications for cancer screening and prevention in family members. The 2012 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health, called for stronger links between medicine and public health. The work of genetic counseling is one crucial element for achieving this linkage in medical care with population health.
About Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Seattle Cancer Care Alliance brings together the leading research teams and cancer specialists from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Children’s and UW Medicine - one extraordinary group whose sole purpose is the pursuit of better, longer, richer lives for our patients. Based in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, SCCA has six clinical care sites, including a medical oncology clinic at EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, Washington; medical and radiation oncology clinics at UW Medicine/Northwest Hospital & Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, as well as Network affiliations with hospitals in five states. For more information about SCCA, visit seattlecca.org.