Hospital of Central Connecticut starts comprehensive genetic counseling and testing program
New Britain [October 22 2009] -
With the aim of identifying adult patients at risk of certain cancers triggered by gene mutation, The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HCC) has launched a regional genetic counseling and testing program. The program will also include Hartford Hospital and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center.
The goal is to identify people at increased risk for cancer due to their genetic makeup and empower them, through counseling, to make decisions regarding possible treatment. The counseling program will be at each hospital.
“Medicine is recognizing how critically important a person’s genetic makeup is – as it relates to whether they are predisposed to a disease, as well as the role genetics plays in how they handle medicines,” says Peter D. Byeff, M.D., medical director of HCC’s George Bray Cancer Center. “Incorporating this program with two other hospitals makes these services available to many more people.”
The new Katherine Ann King Rudolph Hereditary Cancer Genetics Program at HCC is funded largely through the Katherine A. and Bruce A. Rudolph Hereditary Cancer Genetics Fund, with a lead gift of $250,000 from Bruce Rudolph in memory of his wife, Katherine Rudolph. The fund, which includes a state grant and has a $1 million goal, will help provide access to genetic counseling for patients in central Connecticut and greater Hartford.
“We are very grateful to Mr. Rudolph for his generosity and for his insight into the creation of a program which will help many families for a long time to come,” says James S. Hoffman, M.D., director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at HCC’s George Bray Cancer Center.
“In North America, up to 10 percent of breast and ovarian cancers and up to 5 percent of colon cancers are caused by an inherited gene defect,” Hoffman says, noting this number could increase as more inherited or acquired genetic changes that predispose to breast, ovarian and colorectal cancers are identified. Gene defects include BRCA deletions causing increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer genes causing increased colon cancer risk.
Patients with a history of two or more cancers – breast, ovarian or colon, or a family history strong in certain cancers are potential candidates for counseling and gene testing, which involves blood testing. The program will eventually cover additional genetic-based conditions.
Genetic counselor Linda Steinmark, B.A., M.S., will provide counseling services at each hospital, and will discuss treatment options, including risk-reducing surgery. Counseling will stress safety, effectiveness, and patients’ life situations. Physician referral will be required for genetic testing but not a consult.
“This is a perfect example of how local area hospitals can work together to pool scarce resources to provide a critical service any one of us acting alone would have difficulty funding. The generous gift from Mr. Rudolph is an example of true community-based philanthropy in action,” says Steven Hanks, M.D., MMM, FACP, FFSMB, senior vice president of Medical Affairs and chief medical officer. “This gift will also assist in fulfilling a vision brought to us several years ago by Dr. Christine Bartus, one of our colorectal surgeons, who will be spearheading efforts to incorporate a statewide registry for familial colorectal cancer into the program.”
For more information about the genetic counseling and testing program at HCC, please contact Steinmark at (860) 224-5900 x6630 or visit www.thocc.org/services/cancer.
Contact: Kimberly Gensicki, 860-224-5900, x6507
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