I believe that the information we gain from genetic testing should lay the foundation for the care we provide you and your family.”
Why do you study cancer genetics?
During my fellowship, I met a young mother who was a few months out of major surgery for metastatic cancer. I explained that we could use a genetic test to help inform her next steps for treatment, and she agreed it was a good idea. The test results revealed that she happened to carry a particular genetic mutation, which affected the drug therapy her doctors recommended. The results also gave her family members the opportunity to get tested for the same mutation. I really enjoy how sharing genetic information with patients can empower them to take control of their care and their future.
Specialties and clinical expertise
The branch of medicine a provider practices and their areas of focus
I am the medical director of the Cancer Genetics Program at SCCA. The program features multidisciplinary tumor boards, which bring together experts from a variety of specialties to discuss treatment planning. Through our clinic, patients can receive genetic testing for predisposition to cancers as well as counseling and strategies to help manage increased risk. My areas of expertise include medical oncology and cancer genetics. Prior to joining SCCA, I completed a fellowship in cancer genetics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. My main research interest is to better understand how genetic information influences patients’ decision-making about health care and life choices. I’m also interested in exploring ways to help people better access medical genetic information, talk about it with their families and use that knowledge to make decisions that fit their goals.
What do patients appreciate about working with you?
I think people value the information I can offer and the way I share it with them. Many patients aren’t aware of the ramifications of their genes — that they can affect how and when we provide care. For example, knowing the genetic profile of your cancer may help your doctors tailor a treatment plan specifically for you. More importantly, finding out that you have an increased risk of cancer could mean it’s a good idea to conduct screenings more frequently. The sooner a lesion is detected, the more likely we can remove it before it becomes cancerous. I also understand that discussing genetic information about increased risk can be stressful and that some people may need reassurance and time. I maintain an open-door policy, meaning that patients can make an appointment to discuss genetic test results when and if they are ready.