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Cancer Genetic Counselors Saving Lives in Lansing

Monday, November 6, 2017  
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A cancer genetic counselor sees patients that have personal history or a family history of cancer to help pinpoint the reason that the patient is experiencing, or could experience, cancer at some point in their lives.


“We see patients for any cancer indication,” Courtney Attard, MS, CGC Certified Genetic Counselor said. “I would say in our clinics that we see more patients with breast cancer concerns, hoping to be tested for the BRCA genes. However there are a lot of genes that we know about that increase risk for colon, kidney, or other cancers.”


There are a couple of different options for a patient who is at an increased risk of cancer. The information that the oncology genetic counselor provides the patient allows them to make an informed decision on if they would be a good candidate for increased screenings or surgery.


“Our goal is to be a support system for whatever the patient needs.” Rachel Hagen, MS, CGC, Certified Genetic Counselor said. “Some patients come in for just an initial visit, some patients come in once a year, or come in for a session and decide to wait to do the testing. No matter what our patients decide is right for them, we are here.”


Some people visit a genetic counselor to learn about how their genetic results will impact their personal medical management. However, many patients also want to know how the genetic results impact their children, siblings, and parents.


“If we run a genetic test on a patient and they test positive, that means their children and first-degree family members will have a 50% chance of also being a carrier for the genetic mutation,” Attard said. “Knowledge is power, and the knowledge that you or a family member are at an increased risk of cancer allows you to make choices on your future health care.”


Many people wonder about the financial barrier to seeing a genetic counselor, however, the genetic counselors at Karmanos Cancer Center at McLaren Greater Lansing work with insurance companies and help navigate patients through the financial obligation related to genetic counseling and testing.


If you are interested in learning more, or would like to make an appointment to see a counselor, contact the Karmanos Cancer Center at McLaren Greater Lansing at 517- 975-7800.


About McLaren Greater Lansing

McLaren Greater Lansing and McLaren Orthopedic Hospital operate the region’s most distinguished cardiovascular and orthopedic surgery programs that—together with McLaren Greater Lansing’s oncology, women’s care and wide-ranging diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical services—consistently lead in clinical quality and efficiency. The hospitals are part of McLaren Health Care, mid-Michigan’s largest health care system. Visit

About McLaren Health Care

McLaren Health Care, headquartered in Flint, Michigan, is a fully integrated health network committed to quality evidence-based patient care and cost efficiency. The McLaren system includes 12 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, imaging centers, the state’s only proton therapy center, an employed primary care physician network, commercial and Medicaid HMOs covering more than 250,000 lives, home health and hospice providers, retail medical equipment showrooms, pharmacy services, and a wholly owned medical malpractice insurance company. McLaren operates Michigan’s largest network of cancer centers and providers, anchored by the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, one of only 45 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive centers in the U.S. McLaren has 22,000 employees and more than 40,000 network providers. Its operations are housed in more than 350 facilities serving the entire Lower Peninsula of the state of Michigan along with a portion of the Upper Peninsula. Learn more at

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