Media release: Women visiting the Floyd County Health Department for health services ranging from family planning to routine gynecological exams can now also receive free hereditary breast-and-ovarian cancer screening. This new service provides an accurate assessment of personal risk for developing the two cancers, education regarding availability of genetic testing to confirm the risk, and a plan for follow-up and preventive care.
“Evaluating your risk of hereditary breast-and-ovarian cancer syndrome, which often runs in families, is an important first step in cancer prevention and early detection,” says Anne Murphy, RN, Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) Coordinator for the Georgia Department of Public Health’s ten-county Northwest Health District. “If you have close relatives with breast or ovarian cancer, you may be at higher risk for developing these diseases.”
“A nurse conducts the online HBOC screening,” Murphy explains, “which uses personal-and-family history to quickly determine if a woman is at risk.” Women with a positive risk screening are offered a follow-up with a genetic nurse specialist for counseling to determine the need to test for errors in the Breast Cancer Genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, two genes that normally protect against some cancers. An error in these genes can cause HBOC.
“Women with an error in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have a 50-85% higher risk for breast cancer,” says Murphy, “and a 40-60% higher risk of ovarian cancer, much higher than someone in the general population. Having a BRCA error increases your risk for cancer.”
Women who elect to have the testing for a BRCA error will receive the results as well as counseling about how they will impact her future screenings for breast and/or cervical cancer, including mammograms. “Women will also receive instruction on steps they can take to lower their risk of cancer even if they have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 error,” Murphy says.
Each year, over 200,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 20,000 are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. About 3% of breast cancers and 10% of ovarian cancers result from inherited mutations (changes) in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that are passed on in families.
Floyd County: For more information about a free screening for hereditary breast-and-ovarian cancer, contact the Floyd County Health Department, 16 East 12th Street, Rome, at 706-295-6123. Floyd County Health Department hours are Monday– Wednesday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Please note that the health department is closed for lunch Monday – Thursday 12 noon to 12:30 pm and for staff training from 8 am to 12 noon the third Thursday of every month.
Gordon County: For more information about or to schedule a free screening for hereditary breast-and-ovarian cancer, contact the Gordon County Health Department at 706-624-1444. Hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Environmental Health office hours are Monday – Thursday 8 am to 4:30 pm and Friday 8 am to 2 pm. Contact the Gordon County Health Department, 310 North River Street, Calhoun, at 706-624-1444; the Environmental Health office at 706-624-1440, or www.nwgapublichealth.org/counties/gordon
Polk County: For more information about or to schedule a free screening for hereditary breast-and-ovarian cancer, contact the Polk County Health Department at 770-749-2270. Polk County Health Department hours are Monday – Wednesday 8 am to 5 pm, Thursday 8 am to 6:30 pm, and Friday 8 am to 2 pm. Environmental Health office hours are Monday – Thursday 8 am to 5 pm and Friday 8 am to 2 pm. Contact the Polk County Health Department, 125 East Ware Street, Cedartown, at 770-749-2270; the Environmental Health office at 770-749-2253, or visit www.nwgapublichealth.org/counties/polk
Bartow County: For more information about or to schedule a free screening for hereditary breast-and-ovarian cancer, contact the Bartow County Health Department at 770-382-1920.