Rome Memorial Hospital recognized as a leader in hereditary cancer risk screening

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Since Rome Memorial Hospital’s Women’s Imaging Center began offering hereditary cancer risk assessment as part of its personalized breast care program, more than 12,000 women have been screened for their personal risk of developing breast cancer.  

Every person who has breast imaging at Rome Memorial Hospital is asked to complete a screening questionnaire to identify those who may be at higher clinical risk and are candidates for genetic testing. With the risk assessment, personalized recommendations can be made for an early detection program that may include more frequent mammograms or additional screening methods, such as MRI or ultrasound, to detect cancer at its earliest stages.

“Our risk screening program enables us to truly deliver personalized recommendations for women based upon their personal and family history,” said Radiologist John Restivo, M.D., chairperson of Rome Memorial Hospital’s Medical Imaging Center. “Based upon the screening, we can offer women at higher risk access to genetic testing which screens for 35 genetic mutations that impact hereditary risk for eight cancers.”

Since the program was implemented, more than 1,600 women have had genetic testing which screens for breast, ovarian, gastric, colorectal, pancreatic, melanoma, prostate and endometrial cancer. Of these, 84 were identified as having one or more genetic mutations and another 448 were identified as negative, but at higher risk for cancer, according to Personalized Medicine Program Director Leigh Loughran. Women with certain genetic mutations can have up to an 87% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.

“Knowing the results of a genetic test can impact the care management plan for an entire family, siblings, cousins, children and grandchildren,” Dr. Restivo said. “It’s a tragedy when a woman survives breast cancer only to later die of ovarian cancer when it may have been prevented if she had had genetic testing and been presented her options.”

“In the general population, about 12% of women will develop breast cancer, but those with identified personal and family risk factors, and especially those who have genetic mutations, have such an increased risk that we need to think about their care plan differently,” Restivo said. “With that information, we can provide women with personalized recommendations, such as more frequent mammograms and breast MRIs so we can detect breast cancer at its earliest stages.”  

Several years ago, actress Angelina Jolie publically shared her decision to have preventative surgery to have her breasts and ovaries removed to reduce her risk of cancer after discovering that she had a genetic mutation that put her at high risk.  

“Every woman may make a different decision, but with a thorough hereditary cancer risk assessment, women have the information they need to discuss their options with their provider or an experienced genetic counselor,” Dr. Restivo said.

Even when there is no genetic mutation, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American Cancer Society recommend that an annual breast MRI be considered, in addition to a mammogram, for any woman with a lifetime breast cancer risk of 20% or more.

“Advances in clinical risk screening and genetics provide us with tools to predict who may develop cancer so we can be proactive and save lives,” Dr. Restivo said.

Rome Memorial Hospital’s Women’s Imaging Center is a designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence. The hospital received the prestigious achievement by earning American College of Radiology (ACR) accreditation in mammography, stereotactic breast biopsy, breast ultrasound (including ultrasound-guided breast biopsy), and breast MRI.  

“We’re passionate about delivering the best care for our community. There is no other Breast Center in our region that brings together advanced imaging technology, clinical expertise, hereditary risk screening, genetic counseling, and the support of a breast navigator into a comprehensive program,” Dr. Restivo said. 

For more information about the hereditary cancer risk screening program and Rome Memorial Hospital’s Women’s Imaging Center, please contact Leigh Loughran, operations manager, at 315-338-7577.

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