Thanks to advancements in genetic testing, people at risk for cancer might never develop cancer. They're called “pre-vivors,” those who don’t yet have a cancer diagnosis, but know they’re high risk and, therefore, are taking preventive steps.
Now, there’s a support group at Cancer Family Care to help these people learn ways to lower their risk. “We do counseling for cancer patients and their family members, including children,” Jill Settlemeyre, Cancer Family Care director, tells Local 12’s Liz Bonis.
Jill brought in genetic counselors, including Karen Huelsman MS, CGC, of the TriHealth Cancer Institute, to educate patients who have undergone or are considering genetic testing.
Huelsman helped Debbie Heile after she tested positive for the gene mutations associated with breast and ovarian cancer. “It came back positive and that changed the whole recommendation of what to do with my breast cancer and I wasn’t ready for that,” Debbie says.
The group meets regularly and includes cancer “pre-vivors” as well as survivors, like Debbie, who’s a firm believer that knowledge is power.
In those with a positive genetic test for breast cancer, for example, they can have more choices for prevention than ever before.
“We can take action such as prophylactic surgery, chemo prevention or earlier, more targeted surveillance of the organ at risk,” Huelsman points out.