Meet our Genetic Counselor/Genetic Services Coordinator
Courtney M. Cook, MS, LCGC is the first oncology-dedicated Genetic Counselor and Genetic Services Coordinator in Northwest Arkansas. She received her Bachelor of Science from Indiana University and went on to receive her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2016. As a Genetic Counselor, Courtney has specialized training in medical genetics and counseling for inherited cancers. She previously worked as the Oncology Genetic Counselor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she helped to create an oncology-dedicated genetic counseling division.
For more information talk to your doctor about genetic counseling or call 479-936-9900 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is a Genetic Counselor?
This is a healthcare provider trained in genetics, education, and psychology. A Genetic Counselor takes a close look at a patient’s medical and family history to see if there are any signs of hereditary cancer, or cancer running in the family. If there are red flags, a genetic counselor can order genetic testing on the patient’s DNA. This test may determine if the patient is more likely to develop certain cancers. Genetic Counselors can also use other computer programs to estimate common cancer risks specific to the patient.
What are the red flags for Hereditary Cancer?
- Cancer diagnosed at young ages
- Rare cancers
- One person diagnosed with 2 or more primary cancers
- Generational pattern of related cancers
- Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
If you have any of these red flags in you/your family, ask your doctor about a referral to Oncology Genetic Counseling.
What are Hereditary Cancer Syndromes?
The following are some examples of hereditary cancer syndromes. If a family has one of these syndromes, they could be at risk for the associated cancers.
- BRCA-associated Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, and melanoma cancers)
- Cowden syndrome (breast, colon, uterine, thyroid, and kidney cancers, lipomas, bumps on the mouth/hands/feet)
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome (breast, brain, sarcoma, leukemia, lymphoma, and adrenal gland cancers)
- Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer (diffuse/signet ring gastric cancer, lobular breast cancer)
- Lynch syndrome (colon polyps, colon, uterine, ovarian, stomach, small intestine, urinary tract, brain, and pancreatic cancers)
- Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (colon polyposis, colon, small intestine, thyroid, stomach, and central nervous system cancers)
- Neurofibromatosis type 1 (breast cancer, café-au-lait birthmarks, freckles in the armpits/groin, neurofibromas, spots in the iris of the eye)
- Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (hormone-secreting tumors of the digestive system, pheochromocytoma, paraganglioma, parathyroid tumors, pituitary tumors)
Other hereditary cancer syndromes exist besides the ones listed above. If you/your family fit any of these cancer patterns or if you have concerns about the cancers in your family, ask your doctor about a referral to Oncology Genetic Counseling.
Why was I referred to a genetic counselor?
When cancer is diagnosed in you or your family, it may be due to a genetic condition. It is rare for cancers to run in families, but some families are at a higher risk of this. A Genetic Counselor works to discover whether or not there is a mutated gene that has been passed from generation to generation. If you are found to have a hereditary cancer mutation, you and your family could be at increased risk for cancer.
What should I expect during my appointment?
Think of this appointment as a conversation. We will discuss genes related to cancer, how cancer can be passed through families, and whether your family fits this pattern. Genetic testing may be recommended, but it is never required. If genetic testing is suggested and you decide to go through with it, a blood test will be given. Results will become available 3-4 weeks following the test. At your follow-up appointment, a treatment and or screening plan will be established for you and possibly your family members.
How long will my appointment last?
You should plan to be at your appointment for about 1-1.5 hours.
Why is this appointment important for me and my family?
A genetic counselor plays an important role in your medical care and long-term treatment plan. An appointment with a genetic counselor helps us to better determine at what risk you are for developing different types of cancer and it helps us understand how to best manage those risks. This appointment also gives us important information about how to best take care of you and your family for years to come.
To make a referral to Oncology Genetic Counseling, please fill out the Genetics Referral Form and fax or email us the required information:
Phone: (479) 878-5468
Fax: (479) 936-9944