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Mount Kisco Genetics Counselor Discusses New Saliva Test For Breast Cancer

Nancy Cohen, a certified genetic counselor at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco.
Nancy Cohen, a certified genetic counselor at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco. Photo Credit: Submitted

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- Could an inexpensive test using saliva screen for genetic cancer risks, specifically the two main breast cancer risk genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2?

A recent New York Times article outlines the mission of Color Genomics, a Silicon Valley startup, to offer just that (go here to read).

Locally, Nancy Cohen, MS, CGC, a certified genetic counselor at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, said it's too soon to fully understand how the company plans to approach genetic testing for hereditary cancer risk and what resources they possess in terms of results interpretation.

"Multi-gene panel testing is complex and involves some genes that are well understood and for which there are guidelines for management and risk reduction," she said. "However, for other genes there are no recommendations for mutation carriers and the associated cancer risks aren't as well understood."

In addition, she said the results of genetic testing must be evaluated in the context of the patient’s personal and family history.

The bottom line: It's best to see a genetic counselor who is trained in both the science of hereditary syndromes and the psychosocial impact such testing has on patients.

Also worth noting: Color Genomics does not have a New York State permit and is not permitted to  accept specimens collected in New York.

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