Breast cancer in the young: role of the geneticist

Ashley H. Woodson, Jessica L. Profato, Kimberly I. Muse, Jennifer K. Litton

Abstract

The genetics professional plays an important role in the care of young women with breast cancer by providing counseling on issues specific to these young women. The issues addressed in counseling include hereditary predisposition to cancer, fertility and reproductive options in the context of hereditary cancer, and the impact and implications of their history of early breast cancer on close family members.

A thorough risk assessment and counseling session address the patient’s personal and family history, with particular attention paid to benign and malignant findings that suggest the need for genetic testing. Genetics professionals, especially genetic counselors, also address the physical and emotional implications of an increased risk of cancer with patients and family members. This review highlights the unique aspects of care provided by these specialized healthcare providers.