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Genetic Testing in Oncology: An Interview with Marie Wood, MD

Dec 19, 2012

Interview with Marie Wood, MD, Director of the Familial Cancer Program at the University of Vermont Cancer Center, faculty member on ASCO University Genetic Testing in Oncology Course

How is this Genetic Testing in Oncology course organized (i.e., how is the content separated and presented)?

Dr. Wood: This specific course is organized into three separate presentations that focus on different aspects of Genetic Testing. The first presentation discusses taking and utilizing a family history; the second deals specifically with various risk assessment models and options for breast cancer genetic testing; and the third presentation covers informed consent, elements of counseling, and disclosure. There were two other faculty members that participated on this course as well—Kevin Hughes, MD, FACS from Massachusetts General, and David Euhus, MD from UT Southwestern Medical Center—and they both did an outstanding job.

How did your work on the QOPI study (presented at Annual Meeting) lead to you participating on this Genetics Testing course for ASCO University?

Dr. Wood
: In addition to authoring and presenting the study entitled, “Quality of cancer family history and referral for genetic counseling and testing among oncology practices: A pilot test of quality measures as part of the ASCO Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI),” I am also a member of the ASCO Cancer Genetics Subcommittee (part of the Cancer Prevention Committee), which, in 2011, identified the need to defining the elements of an adequate family history for cancer risk assessment. A consensus conference was held in February 2012 and during this time the important elements to gather as part of an adequate family history for oncologist was established. This was based on a 2009 family history consensus conference convened by the National Institutes of Health that identified key “minimum” elements of the family history. My work on this ASCO University course is a direct result of my involvement with both the QOPI study and the Cancer Genetics subcommittee.

Why is this course important for oncologists, specifically when it comes to caring for their patients?

Dr. Wood: This course is not meant for people who are genetics experts—it is meant to help the practicing oncologist with little genetics experience to take a better family history and use that history to identify individuals who may need further evaluation, such as genetic counseling and/or genetic testing. I hope, ultimately, that this will result in oncologists offering better care for their patients. It will also help oncologists to understand what elements are important if you are counseling and testing patients yourself or in your practice.
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