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Recent medical advances can tell us more about a person's risk of getting a disease than ever before. So if breast cancer, or any type of cancer, runs in your family there are ways, right here in Siouxland, to get some answers, and hopefully prevent problems in the future.
Knowledge is power. And knowing your risk factors for cancer can make a big difference in your future health. That's the idea behind the Hereditary Cancer Prevention Clinic at Mercy Medical Center.
Patients who visit the clinic will undergo an in–depth personal and family health history, or "cancer risk assessment." That will help experts know if you'd be a good candidate for genetic testing. Not all cancers are hereditary, but some common ones, like breast and colon cancer have a genetic link.
"Knowing your cancer risk factors such as genetic factors enables one to be more informed, it assists them with their decision making regarding their medical management, it promotes prevention measures to reduce their risk of cancer," says Lori Douschot, a Counselor with the Mercy Hereditary Cancer Prevention Clinic.
Armed with that information, doctors may recommend you start mammograms or other screenings at an earlier age than normal. Because prevention and early detention are key with any cancer.
"I think it's important to understand that if a person inherits this gene mutation, they do not inherit cancer – nor do they have cancer – rather it means they've inherited an increased risk," says Douschot.
And while the information can also be overwhelming – the Hereditary Cancer Prevention Clinic takes a holistic approach to health, helping patients with any feelings they might be dealing with.
Now what about cost?
The Cancer Prevention Clinic receives some funding from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Siouxland and the Mercy Alliance for Women's Health. That means your initial interview and post–test counseling are free.
Some insurance companies also cover genetic testing based on your risk.