The role of the Center for Cancer Genetics and Cancer Control at North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute is to identify individuals and families at increased risk of cancer and to reduce risk, diagnose, monitor and even prevent cancer through genetic risk assessment and disease management programs.
Though there are several different factors that can cause cancer, five to ten percent of cancers are inherited, meaning that the cancer tends to run in some families. In these cases, an alteration in a gene — a part of every cell that determines your traits, or characteristics, such as eye color — is passed from one generation to the next. The cancer itself isn’t inherited, however, just the mutated gene that can lead to cancer.
The Center for Cancer Genetics and Cancer Control provides lifesaving interventions aimed at reducing cancer risk for individuals carrying mutations in cancer genes, preventing the development of the disease and increasing life expectancy.
For patients with a diagnosis of a cancer syndrome, we provide tangible methods for reducing disease symptoms and side effects of treatment. Our multidisciplinary team of specialists has a long-established legacy using chemo-prevention, genetic evaluation, conventional and unconventional symptom control and pain management techniques that reduce fatigue, nausea and other side effects, while enhancing overall quality of life.
Our program assesses risks for a wide range of common and rare forms of cancers including:
- Hereditary breast cancer syndromes
- Hereditary gynecological cancer syndromes
- Hereditary colon cancer syndromes
- Hereditary thyroid cancer syndromes
- Hereditary skin cancer syndromes
- Hereditary kidney cancer syndromes
- Many other rare cancer syndromes
Genetic Counseling Program
If you were diagnosed with cancer at an early age (before age 50), have close multiple relatives with cancer or have a relative with a known mutation, then genetic counseling is recommended. Our experts at the Center for Cancer Genetics and Cancer Control at North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute assist patients and families at risk for these kinds of cancers and genetic disorders by explaining:
- The history and risks of the diseases, as well as how they develop
- Genetic testing that can help determine one’s personal risk for specific cancers
- Discuss options to prevent and detect cancer early
- Discuss implications of results to family members
- Options for risk management and family planning
- Options for psychosocial support (counseling to deal with issues related to diagnosis or genetic testing results)
Genetic counseling is a two-visit process that involves consultation, testing and follow-up:
- Patients meet with a healthcare professional specializing in cancer genetics for an in-depth discussion about:
- Their likelihood of carrying a hereditary predisposition to cancer
- The benefits, risks and limitations of testing
- Available tests and implications of test results for themselves and their family
- Early detection and prevention options
- Other relevant personal concerns
- During the follow-up, the genetic counselor reviews the results and their implications, discusses screening and prevention options and provides psychosocial support.
The Breast and Ovarian Cancer Specimen Bank
The Breast and Ovarian Cancer Specimen Bank serves as a vital resource to discover and validate new biomarkers (characteristics) for early detection, prediction of disease course and outcome, treatment response and risk of relapse in breast and/or ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, current methods of early detection are not effective until a tumor cell mass has formed, which may be years after the initial onset of the disease. The Breast and Ovarian Cancer Specimen Bank, established by Annette Lee, PhD, and Iuliana Shapira, MD, collects blood and tissue samples from women who have or are suspected to have either type of cancer. Efforts to simultaneously study both breast and ovarian cancer are unique and place us at the forefront of cancer research. To date, several hundred people have contributed to the specimen bank. Preliminary results of this study have been presented at several national and international meetings.
Cancer Control Program
Our Cancer Control programs examine ways to reduce the incidence of cancer in the communities we serve, as well as ways to reduce disease-based and treatment-related symptoms. With a focus on individuals who are at high risk for developing specific cancers, we provide counseling on how to minimize the onset of the disease.
The Center’s efforts also include examining ways to reduce the incidence of cancer in surrounding communities.