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First peer-support helpline for people concerned about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer

(Philadelphia, PA) All volunteers who answer the phones will have undergone genetic counseling. The toll-free helpline will begin operations on Tuesday, December 2, and can be reached by calling: 1-866-824-RISK (7475).

"Confronting real fears about illness such as breast and ovarian cancer is as important in treating a patient as dealing with the illness itself," says James Coyne, PhD, a Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology) at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. "This helpline is part of a continuum of cancer care that stretches from early prevention through to treatment."

Women, or men, who call into the helpline have direct access to any one of 20 volunteers located across the country. Aside from direct contact and emotional support, helpline volunteers are equipped with a 72-page resource guide for offering referrals and information to more than 200 key information sources about hereditary risk and genetic counseling. Volunteers can also direct callers to centers for genetic counseling, and essentially offer direct, one-on-one contact with a woman whose experience more closely resembles the caller's by age, marital and family status, and by choice of action some women choose surgery as an option, others do not. Medical questions will not be answered by helpline volunteers. Instead, callers will be referred to the nearest sources of clinical expertise, including services available at the Abramson Cancer Center.

"Increasing numbers of women are finding out about their family history of breast and ovarian cancer, seeking genetic counseling and, depending on many factors, getting screened for their genetic risk of developing the disease," says Sue Friedman, executive director of FORCE. Friedman, a breast cancer survivor and carrier of BRCA2 mutation, founded FORCE in 1999. "This helpline meets the growing need for more personal and informed support beyond what is available through other telephone lines and w
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Contact: David March
david.march@uphs.upenn.edu
215-615-3353
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
24-Nov-2003


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