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Geisinger Precision Health Center to host BRCA Symposia

Aug 04, 2015 06:00AM ● Published by Erica Shames

Geisinger Health System will hold the second in an ongoing series of GenomeFIRST conferences on Sept. 30 through Oct. 1 at the Precision Health Center at 190 Welles Street in Forty Fort. The “Improving Care for Individuals and Families with High Risk for Breast, Ovarian, and Prostate Cancers due to Changes in the BRCA Gene” Symposium will look at the genes that can predispose many people to life-threatening cancers.

BRCA genes and the inherited risk for breast cancer has been a subject of widespread interest in the wake of actress Angelina Jolie’s public disclosure of her preventive double mastectomy in 2013 after being diagnosed with the genetic condition and finding she had an 87 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Her mother and aunt died from breast cancer, while her grandmother died from ovarian cancer. 

“Approximately 1 in 500 people have similar changes to their BRCA genes with associated risk for cancer,” said Michael Murray, M.D., director of Clinical Genomics in Geisinger’s Genomic Medicine Institute, “and the overwhelming majority of them do not know it.”

The symposium will feature speakers from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the University of Chicago, Brown University, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Geisinger Health System.

“Changes to the BRCA genes are associated with cancers in both men and women,” said Monica A. Giovanni, MS, CGC, “The cancers include breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancer.”  The symposium coincides with national Breast and Ovarian Cancer Awareness campaigns.

“This symposium will highlight new ways to identify those with this cancer risk, state of the art care, ways to support patients and families once identified, and where the field is headed.” said Dr. Murray. “These symposia function as a worldwide meeting place for people who want to learn and exchange ideas about important topics in clinical genomics.”  He said the May symposium had live webcast viewers from South America, Europe and Asia.

The symposia will have a small, invited live audience present at the Precision Health Center in Forty Fort; however all are invited and welcome to join via a live, free web-link. The symposium will run from 1- 6:30 p.m. on September 30, and 9 a.m- 4 p.m. on October 1. For more information, go to go.geisinger.org/BRCAsymposium.

“The GenomeFIRST Symposia will have three target audience groups - patients and patient advocates, clinicians who care for patients, and researchers and scientists interested in the genomic basis of the condition,” Dr. Murray said.

Geisinger opened the Precision Health Center on April 20 of this year. The 14,000-square-foot, $562,000 facility will be home to highly specialized teams from Geisinger’s Clinical Genomics and Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI), and will serve as the primary location for Geisinger Research in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

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