GenRISK Genetic Testing Program At Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Offers Patients New Hope In Confronting Disease

LOS ANGELES (March 8, 1999) -- When Marcia Litt was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 48, she was worried about more than her medical outcome. Her fears also focused on the possibility that her children -- and other family members -- could develop the same disease. Marcia had already seen two of her aunts succumb to breast cancer, and began to wonder if there might be a genetic susceptibility to the disease within her family.

"I gradually became proactive about educating myself about cancer," said Marcia, who underwent a lumpectomy, lymph node surgery, radiation and chemotherapy in 1997. Initially she was afraid to explore the subject for fear of learning more than she could emotionally handle. But with time that hesitation turned to action, as she began to seek information about the disease and, ultimately, decide to pursue genetic counseling and testing. She credits that decision with saving her life . . . and possibly the lives of those she loves.

Last year, Marcia was one of more than 130 people evaluated by the GenRISK program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Program director Maren Scheuner, M.D., M.P.H., hopes that number will grow as more people become aware of both GenRISK and the benefits it can provide in recognizing and reducing the risks of potentially life-threatening diseases.

Utilizing state-of-the-art genetic consultative services, GenRISK provides genetic risk assessment, diagnosis, testing and counseling for such common, chronic conditions as cancer (including breast, colon, endometrial, kidney, ovarian, prostate, skin and thyroid), diabetes, heart disease, hemochromatosis and stroke. The program is designed for individuals who may have a genetic susceptibility to certain conditions.

David L. Rimoin, M.D., Ph.D., Steven Spielberg Chairman of Pediatrics, Director of the Ahmanson Pediatric Center and Director of the Medical Genetics-Birth Defects Center at Cedars-Sinai, calls this ?customized environmental engineering.? ?Why give

Contact: Sandra Van
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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