COOKEVILLE–Cookeville Regional Medical Center now offers an on-site genetic counselor to help those seeking answers about their hereditary cancer risk and genetics.
“The Cancer Center has always offered genetic testing, but to now have someone here for our patients to talk to is wonderful,” said Kandy McGuire, Cancer Center director. “Genetic testing has received a lot of attention in the last couple of years and more and more people are looking into it and they have questions. In Nashville, the wait list is quite long to see a genetic counselor, so we are thrilled to be able to offer this service to the people in the region and help answer their questions.”
Ashley Cohen, MS, LCGC, is the new face of genetic counseling at Cookeville Regional. Cohen has spent the last three years working in genetic counseling in Atlanta, GA. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and obtained her Master of Science degree in Genetic Counseling from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“I enjoyed both genetics and psychology in my studies. Genetic counseling was that perfect mix,” said Cohen. “Meeting with patients, answering their questions and truly talking through what they want to know and do is what I enjoy most. I want to walk through this journey with them whether they choose to move forward with testing or not. The patient’s needs are the most important.”
A genetic counselor is a board certified, licensed healthcare provider who has expertise in assessing hereditary cancer risk, providing education on genetic testing options, as well as discussing implications, benefits and limitations of testing for the patient and their family members.
“For most patients, genetic counseling and testing provides them with the opportunity to be proactive with their health or the health of their family members. We will assess their personal and family history to make sure that they are tested for the right genes,” said Cohen. “However, genetic testing isn’t for everyone. Even though everything is confidential, it can be very personal discussing your history and actually answering the question ‘do I really want to know?’”
One might consider having a genetic counseling risk assessment done if they have:
- A personal or family history of cancer diagnosed at young ages (less than 50 years old).
- Same type of cancer in multiple relatives on the same side of the family.
- Strong family history of multiple types of cancers.
- A personal history of greater than 10 colon polyps.
- A personal or family history of rare cancers (i.e. ovarian, stomach, pancreatic, kidney cancers, etc.).
- A personal or family history of a genetic mutation already detected by prior genetic testing.
Cohen specializes in genetic counseling for cancer patients, but she has also worked with physicians from other disciplines like prenatal, preconception, cardiovascular and adult patients.
A physician referral is needed from a doctor to see the genetic counselor at The Cancer Center at Cookeville Regional. Visit www.crmchealth.org/genetics or call 931-783-2476.