MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center is expanding the region’s access to cancer-related specialty services: beginning October 28, certified genetic counselor Anna Chloe Farkas will provide genetic counseling for a wide range of cancers at the MedStar Breast Health Program, located on the MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center campus.

Genetic counseling offers a comprehensive approach to assessing and managing cancer risk in individuals or families. In addition, a genetic counselor provides important context for test results and connects patients and families with support and resources. Not only can a genetic counselor make sure a patient is tested using the most up-to-date guidelines, she can also interpret test results for the patient, explain the result’s impact for the patient and his or her family, and recommend appropriate screening and risk reduction strategies.

“Although genetic testing can be ordered by any physician, genetic counseling is a critical component of the process,” said Farkas. “Our understanding of the role of genetics in cancer risk is constantly evolving, and both positive and negative test results can have important consequences for patients and their families. I help patients understand their results and use the information to mitigate their cancer risk.”

Five to ten percent of cancers have a genetic component, including some forms of breast cancer (including male breast cancer), gynecologic cancers such as ovarian or endometrial cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, diffuse type gastric cancer, renal cancer, and sarcoma. Anyone with a personal or family history of cancer may be able to benefit from genetic testing and counseling, particularly if cancer was diagnosed before age 50 or in multiple family members.

Anna Chloe Farkas is a certified genetic counselor based at the renowned Lombardi Cancer Center at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry and English from Case Western Reserve University and earned a Master of Genetic Counseling degree from the University of Maryland. In addition to providing clinical genetic counseling, Ms. Farkas provides clinical and academic supervision to graduate students. She is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and is a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

“Genetic counseling is a very important part of what we do here,” said Katerina Tsiapali, MD, noted breast surgical oncologist and medical director of the MedStar Breast Health Program at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center. “It is important to identify families with genetic abnormalities that put them at high risk for developing some cancers, because we can then offer them the option of enhanced screening and other preventative measures. With genetic counseling, patients are educated and given context in which to understand the test results, so they are prepared for all eventualities. We are very excited to have Chloe Farkas here in Southern Maryland.”