Genetic screening program helps battle cancer

The adage that it’s generally easier to prevent a spill than to clean one up rings true when it comes to cancer.

Screening – and knowing your genetic risk for certain cancers – is an effective way to nip cancer in the bud, and one that many cancer survivors can relate to. Best not to have cancer if you can prevent it in the first place, many survivors say.

In North Texas, the Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center’s Genetics Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center has created a patient-driven computer software program – CancerGene Connect – that is changing the service delivery model for genetic risk assessment.

“It is an online patient-driven program that allows a patient to complete his or her family and medical history online prior to the medical appointment,” says Dr. David Euhus, the program’s clinical director.

In 1998, Dr. Euhus created CancerGene software that includes multiple risk-assessment models that genetics professionals use to determine a patient’s risk for hereditary cancers. For the first time, health care professionals freely could access risk assessment models on one easy-to-navigate computer program.

The desktop program is now used by more than 4,000 professionals in 75 countries and is updated regularly.

“We have taken this program to a new level and created a virtual genetic counseling environment,” Dr. Euhus says. “We have found that by allowing patients to enter their family history at home, they obtain a more accurate history because they have a chance to contact their family members with questions.

“The point is to eliminate any need for survivorship because the disease itself, with the help of genetics screening and intervention, will be stopped before it begins,” he says.

Visit UTSW Medicine to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services for cancer.

June 2 is National Cancer Survivors Day.

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