Though most cancers are due to behavioral or environmental causes, and
even, at times, by chance, there are many known genes that may increase
an individual’s risk. Genetic counseling identifies those at increased
risk of cancer, in order to promote awareness, early detection and cancer
CaroMont’s genetics counseling program, led by Ashley Migliaro, MS,
focuses on empowering patients to reduce their individual risk to disease.
CaroMont’s experts select the most appropriate genetic tests for
patients, while focusing on helping patients understand how to interpret
results for ongoing and future health decisions.
With breast cancer top of mind in October, Paula Lundgren, MD, fellowship-trained
surgeon with CaroMont Breast Surgical Specialists, answers some common
questions about genetics counseling and breast cancer:
Q: Do genetics counseling and breast cancer treatment/surgery go hand-in-hand?
How can genetic tests be helpful for breast cancer patients?
A: In the last decade, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the
relationship between genes and cancer. If the patient has a harmful mutation
or change in the DNA that’s been passed down in the family, it is
advantageous to know about this prior to treatment because it may have
implications to what surgery a patient may choose for breast cancer.
In addition, patients may be at risk for other cancers, so we are better
able to determine what screening will produce the optimal results for
It used to take at least 6 to 8 weeks to obtain basic genetic testing.
Today, testing is done more quickly and based on the test results, patients
receive the entire picture in relation to their cancer risk and recommended care.
Q: How many breast cancer patients have utilized the genetics counseling
program so far, and why is this program is so important for patients?
A: Our Genetics Counselor, Ms. Migliaro, has seen approximately 130 women
who have a personal history of breast cancer since she joined CaroMont
in 2014. I think this number will increase rapidly as people learn more
about the service in our community.
I conduct comprehensive family histories on all of the patients who come
to my office, even those who present without breast cancer. I do this
because I feel we can all do a better job of determining who may benefit
from counseling and possibly testing. Ultimately, our hope is to be able
to screen patients and catch the cancers at an earlier stage.
Ashley’s expertise in cancer genetics is a strong asset to our multidisciplinary
approach to cancer care and to CaroMont Health as a whole. The field is
broad and expanding at such a rapid pace that it requires someone who
is specially trained to provide a more comprehensive counseling experience.
To learn more about hereditary risk assessment, genetic counseling and
testing, please call Ashley Migliaro at 704.834.3672. To schedule a genetic
counseling appointment, call Central Scheduling at 704.671.5300.