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Genetically Speaking Blog

Steps Individuals Can Take to Understand Cancer Risk

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This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, NSGC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) want to help individuals learn the steps they can take to understand their risk for health conditions, including breast and ovarian cancer. In a new episode of NSGC’s Genetic Counselors and You consumer podcast series, NSGC Cancer Expert Joy Larsen Haidle and family physician, Sarah Coles, MD, discuss how genetic testing and counseling is part of understanding genetic risk. Larsen Haidle is a genetic counselor at North Memorial Health Cancer Center in Robbinsdale, Minn. and Coles is a family physician from Phoenix, Ariz.

How to Navigate Imprecision in the Precision Medicine Era

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When it comes to genetics and what we can learn from it, the progress we’ve made can make your head spin. I became interested in a genetic counseling career in the late ‘90s, which feels like ancient history. Back then, I’d speak to families about the possibility of a genetic condition, but there likely wasn’t a genetic test available to tell us more. If we confirmed a diagnosis, there usually weren’t many treatments to help. We’ve come a long way.

How to Protect Your Mental Health When Genetics Make You Vulnerable

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While many people know that genetic counselors work with families concerned about conditions caused entirely by genes, people are often less familiar with the idea that we also work with families affected by health conditions caused by a combination of genes and our experiences. Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder are a few examples. 

Code Talker Awards: Lisa Johnson A Rare Friend

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Her voice was sweet, but the words hurt. There was nothing she could do to take the pain away or ease the sting. After four consecutive miscarriages, this pregnancy entered the second trimester, so we felt hopeful — but the celebration was short-lived. Our doctor found anomalies during the ultrasound. Visions of pink or blue became gray. We quickly learned what an enlarged nuchal fold meant — darker gray — and then chronic villus sampling (CVS) — darker gray.

Code Talker Awards: Hannah Scanga Amazing Grace

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I am reminded of a line in the famous song “Amazing Grace.” I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see. My son, James, was born with a rare genetic disorder causing clouding to both of his eyes. By all accounts, he was blind. Today, James not only has vision, but he also, at 4 years old, attends school full time, recognizes pictures in books, and navigates environments comfortably. I directly attribute his success to the selfless service and expertise of Hannah Scanga.