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Genetic Counseling

Genetic Counseling - Knowledge is Power

Although most cancer is not inherited, approximately 5 – 10% of people with cancer have a hereditary form or a predisposition to cancer. Hereditary cancers occur because of a change (mutation) in certain genes. Inheriting these genetic mutations can increase a person’s risk for certain types of cancer. These genetic changes can be passed down from generation to generation through the mother’s or father’s side of the family.

At the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara,we understand that many factors must be considered when discussing cancer risk, including personality, coping style, and family experience with cancer. Our goal is to provide confidential information, reassurance, and support to cancer patients and their families.

We offer comprehensive genetic counseling and testing services by a certified genetic counselor to patients and families at suspected risk for hereditary cancer.

Program Overview
Genetic Counseling
Held at the Cancer Center, your first appointment will include:

  • Review of personal and family history
  • Assessment of personal cancer risk
  • Discussion of the role that genes play in the development of cancer
  • Individualized prevention strategies to reduce cancer risk
  • Information about the risk, benefits, and limitations of genetic testing
  • Reassurance about confidentiality
  • Support to make educated and informed decisions about genetic testing
  • Genetic testing facilitation, when appropriate


 

Genetic Testing
Genetic testing for various inherited forms of cancer is available. Deciding whether or not to pursue testing is a personal choice that can be made at the time of the initial visit or at a future date. If you choose to undergo genetic testing, a blood sample will be taken and analyzed. Results are confidential and discussed with the certified genetic counselor.

Financial Support
Most insurance plans cover the cost of genetic counseling and testing. Limited financial assistance is available. Please note: insurance companies may not use your genetic information to deny you coverage or increase your premiums. State and federal laws are in place to protect you. For further information on these laws, you may speak with the certified genetic counselor.

Indicators of Hereditary Risk
The Cancer Center’s Genetic Counseling Program aims to help patients and families with a history of cancer better understand and manage cancer risk.

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, genetic counseling may be especially beneficial to you and your family:

  • Have you or any of your relatives been diagnosed with cancer before the age of 60?
  • Have you or any of your relatives than one type of cancer or bilateral cancers (i.e. both breasts)?
  • Do you or any have rare cancers, such as male breast cancer?
  • Has the same type of cancer been diagnosed in two or more relatives?
  • Does your family have a known hereditary cancer syndrome?
  • Does your family history of cancer cause you to worry about the risk for you or your children?

Cancer Center of Santa Barbara Genetic Counseling
540 West Pueblo St  
Santa Barbara, CA 93105 
(805) 898-2204   

Meet the Genetic Counselors

Danielle Sharaga, MS, LCGC, Genetic Counselor and Program Coordinator. Danielle started as a Genetic Counselor and Program Coordinator with Sansum Clinic in January 2013. She is a board certified Genetic Counselor. She had previously worked as a genetic counselor in Honolulu at the Queen's Genetics Center practicing primarily in cancer genetics. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Science degree in Human Genetics/Genetic Counseling from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. Danielle is passionate about working with patients and their families.

Erica Wellington, MS, LCGC, Genetic Counselor. Erica is a Board Certified Genetic Counselor specializing in cancer genetics. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Rochester with a major in Health and Society and minors in Biology and Medical Ethics. She earned her Master of Science degree in Genetic Counseling from Brandeis University in 2012. She practiced prenatal and cancer genetic counseling at Perinatal Associates of Northern Nevada in Reno before joining Sansum Clinic in May 2015. She looks forward to working closely with patients and providers in the Santa Barbara community.

Hannah Andrews, MS, Genetic Counselor. Hannah has recently joined the team as a Genetic Counselor with Sansum Clinic in June 2015. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neuroscience and minor in Psychology at the University of California, San Diego. Hannah received her Master of Science degree in Genetic Counseling from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in 2015. She is excited to be part of the expanded genetic counseling department and is looking forward to working in the Santa Barbara community.

"Genetic counseling and testing provided our family with crucial, life-saving information." – Carrie Hagen
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