Coffee with Komen – Telegenetics: Pilot Program at Hendricks Regional Health Assesses Cancer Risk Remotely

by Jennifer M. Pierle, nurse practitioner, Henricks Regional Health

Does cancer run in your family? Knowing your family history is a vital component of preventive care that can save lives. You may not think your great-aunt’s battle with breast cancer could impact you, but it absolutely could. While there’s not much we can do to change your past, we can help you live a healthier future.

Hendricks Regional Health has unveiled a high-risk cancer screening and prevention program. A vital component of this program is an advanced risk assessment tool that provides patients and their doctors with a lifetime risk factor of developing a hereditary cancer. Patients are first asked about their biological relatives’ health history. Next, the benefits and limitations of genetic testing and possible high risk surveillance options are discussed. Patients who choose to proceed with genetic testing may have specific gene mutations identified that may increase their risk for developing cancer.

The program has been so successful that Hendricks Regional Health is now one of ten hospitals across the nation participating in a pilot program that expands patients’ access to this care. Myriad’s myRisk® Enhancement Pilot is a Telegenetics program that offers a same-day referral process for high-risk patients. The program provides online and remote genetic testing and counseling services for patients at risk for cancer. Patients simply watch a quick video explaining the risks and benefits of genetic testing. Following that, they are connected to a genetic counselor via telephone that takes a thorough family history and discusses if they meet criteria for genetic testing. If the patient desires, they can get their blood drawn for a genetic panel and then will come back for a return results visit with the high risk nurse practitioner. At that visit, the patient and NP will create a High Risk Prevention Care Plan to follow for future screenings and preventative care.

Patients like how quick and easy the process is. If you think you may be at high-risk, please complete the free survey at: https://www.hereditarycancerquiz.com/hendricks. After taking the online survey, which screens for eight different types of cancers, if your family history questionnaire prompts any red flags, you are given the opportunity to schedule an appointment and discuss your risk for developing cancer.

With so many advances in the fight against cancer, it’s important to take advantage of high-risk screening and prevention programs. If you’re worried about your risk for cancer, you now have an opportunity to find out what it is. Ask questions to find out if your family has a history of cancer because this information is crucial to accurately assessing your risk and making sure you are having the right screenings performed. If you’re worried about your insurance, ask us because over 97% of insurance companies cover the cost of genetic testing. We will fight for you. We can help prevent these diseases. We can save lives.