Cancer Genetic Counseling
Jacqueline Smiley, Cancer Genetic CounselorCall 810-262-6743 for Appointment
Cancer genetic counseling and testing are lifesaving services—and they’re offered right here at Hurley Medical Center in Flint. The ultimate goal of genetic counseling and testing is to prevent cancer. Genetic counselors provide cancer risk assessment and support. Testing is what identifies whether an individual has a hereditary gene mutation that increases their risk for certain cancers. The most commonly found hereditary cancers include breast, ovarian, uterine, prostate, thyroid, colon, and pancreatic.
Jacqueline Smiley, RN, MSN, APRN-BC, an Adult Nurse Practitioner at OB/GYN Healthcare Associates in Hurley’s Medical Arts Building, is Genesee County’s go-to person for guidance on identifying and managing inherited cancer risk. With extensive training and experience, she is certified to counsel patients on their specific risks, as well as their options for prevention, screening, and treatment if they do have a certain gene and/or cancer.
Since most genetic counselors work in labs instead of medical practices, these services are a gem in Genesee County. Whereas it takes months to get an appointment for genetic counseling at major health systems in other areas, there is no long wait here, with screenings conducted every week. What’s more, individuals don’t have to be a current Hurley patient or have a Hurley doctor—these services are available to everyone in the community.
During the initial visit, Jackie follows guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network to determine inherited cancer risk based on family medical history. She also works with patients to develop a strategy for testing that fits their individual needs. Best of all, insurance—including Medicare and Medicaid—almost always covers 100% of the pre-test counseling and genetic tests, so patients don’t have to worry about co-pays for this visit.
Adults are excellent candidates for genetic testing if they:
- experience cancer at a young age,
- have family members who did, or
- are concerned about multiple cancers on either their maternal or paternal side.
Anyone fitting that description is encouraged to come in for a cancer risk assessment. Jackie cautions against relying on commercial DNA tests like 23andMe as such kits may provide a false sense of security. Due to the limited manner in which they test, someone using a commercial test could think they were free from hereditary gene mutations when in actuality they aren’t. She says they see it all the time.
For anyone who may be hesitant to make an appointment, Jackie has reassuring words. “It’s coming in for a discussion—testing isn’t mandatory. If you decide you don’t want to get tested, that’s okay. There’s no pressure—it’s your decision. I’m here to share knowledge.”
Those who do elect to have genetic testing provide either a blood or saliva sample. Results come in about a month later. The genetic counselor then explains the results in a way that is most helpful for the patients and their families. If a patient does have one of the genes that increases their risk for cancer, they’ll be advised whether their family members also should be tested. Knowing the specific genetic mutation an individual has helps not only with prevention strategies, but also with treatment should they be diagnosed with cancer.
However, there are many options for individuals who get genetic counseling but would prefer not to be tested. Jackie stresses the importance of genetic counseling. “It’s okay if they don’t want to know if they have a certain gene. But they can still get early screening. We could even just look for the cancer itself and not any genes. At least have an evaluation.”
Making an appointment is easy. Just call OB/GYN Healthcare Associates at 810-262-6743 to schedule a general office visit. Proactively evaluating inherited cancer risk will enable you to make informed decisions regarding prevention, screening, and treatment.
OB/GYN Healthcare Associates
Medical Arts Building
Two Hurley Plaza, Suite 204
Flint, Michigan 48503-5999