Southern Cancer Center adds Genetic Cancer Risk Assessment Program


MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Southern Cancer Center has expanded its advanced cancer care services by adding a cutting-edge cancer risk assessment program to the practice.

The Genetic Risk Evaluation and Testing (GREAT) program advances precision care through genetic research and provides cancer prevention opportunities for patients and their family members.

“Genetic testing and consultation, which are key components of the GREAT program, can be an important option for people who may have an inherited risk of developing cancer,” said Dr. Brian Heller, oncologist and president of Southern Cancer Center. “Understanding the increased risk of developing the disease can help a person make lifestyle choices that may prevent cancer, as well as help them make informed decisions about screenings that can detect the disease early.”

The National Cancer Institute estimates that inherited mutations play a role in almost 10 percent of all cancers. Researchers have identified several specific inherited mutations that can lead to cancer. Foremost among them are mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes which can cause Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome. Colon, ovarian and endometrial cancers are associated with Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colon Cancer, or Lynch syndrome. Other cancers thought to be caused by inherited gene mutations include kidney cancer, melanoma, brain tumors, prostate, pancreatic and thyroid cancers.

The process starts with an in-depth consultation to gather family history and provide patient education. Appropriate genetic testing is ordered after a thorough risk assessment using a variety of techniques. Once test results are available, clinicians discuss the findings and address personal concerns. Patients who test positive for a gene mutation are presented with options for a proactive, individualized care plan that could include surveillance, chemotherapy or preventative surgery. Patients who do not test positive receive counseling for risk management and further testing strategies, if appropriate. The impact of genetic testing results on family members is also discussed.

Currently, genetic testing can detect certain gene mutations for breast, ovarian, colon, endometrial, as well as several other types of cancer. For more information about Southern Cancer Center’s Genetic Risk Evaluation and Testing program, call 251-625-6896 or visit

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