Mar 01, 2019 8:00 AM

Author: Whitney Espinel, CGC, MS

a young woman sits at her work desk
Whitney Espinel, CGC, MS, Genetic Counselor at Huntsman Cancer Institute

On a typical clinic day, I see between four and eight new patients. During the visit, we discuss family histories, genetic causes of cancer, appropriate cancer screenings, and genetic testing.

I recommend that anyone worried about their family history of cancer talk with a genetic counselor. We can help determine if genetic testing would provide helpful information about their cancer risks.

Our knowledge of genetics is changing extremely quickly. We have gone from single-gene testing to multi-gene panel testing. We have expanded genetic testing to new types of cancers. We now have the ability to offer personalized screening, risk-reduction options, and even treatment to target specific genetic mutations.

It's exciting to be a genetic counselor, especially here at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), where genetics play such a key role in so many aspects of patient care.

One of my favorite things about our genetic clinics at HCI is that we get to follow families over time. I love seeing how resilient patients are when faced with difficult information about cancer risks. It means a lot that patients and families trust us to help them through difficult conversations and to help them make important decisions about their health.

infographic explaining genetic testing
Genetic counselors also play a role in research. A team of researchers recently received a grant to study ways to identify patients who may benefit from genetic counseling and services. Read more about the study.

Whitney Espinel, CGC, MS

Genetic Counselor at Huntsman Cancer Institute

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Cancer touches all of us.

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