CALLING ALL DOCTORS
Medical science has changed dramatically in the last decade. Since the Human Genome Project was launched in 1990, the mysteries surrounding many familial diseases have been traced to minor errors in a snippet of DNA on a particular gene. There are now hundreds of genes that have been linked to specific diseases, and new genetic information is surfacing on a weekly basis.
For those who graduated medical school prior to 1992, the study of human genetics was far more theoretical and less detailed. Now physicians in all specialties are being faced with patients' questions - and dilemmas - that they are often unprepared to respond to. High on the list of patients' concerns are assessing their personal risk of developing a form of cancer that seems to run through their families, and understanding the benefits and the potential drawbacks of genetic testing.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded a grant to several UMDNJ genetics experts to develop a series of educational options on cancer genetics for healthcare professionals. These will include the most up-to-date factual information on cancer genetics, as well as guidelines for assessing a patient's risk, and deciding when referral to a genetic specialist is warranted. An interactive cancer genetics Web site - monitored by a genetic counselor - has been launched.
Deborah Toppmeyer, MD, director of CINJ's Cancer Risk Assessment and Counseling Program and assistant professor of medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Beth Pletcher, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School (NJMS), and Marvin Schwalb, PhD, director of the Center for Human and Molecular Genetics and a professor at NJMS, are directing the program. For information on dates, times and places, please call: 732-235-7110.
The magazine of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey