New cancer screenings available

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | September 02, 2014

Image with caption: Jennifer Sanmann, Ph.D., Tanner Hagelstrom, Ph.D., and Amber Carter.

Jennifer Sanmann, Ph.D., Tanner Hagelstrom, Ph.D., and Amber Carter.

The UNMC Human Genetics Laboratory at the Munroe-Meyer Institute has developed a new set of hereditary cancer tests that can pinpoint genetic mutations that predispose people to certain types of cancer. These tests are now available to providers across campus.

Panels are available to detect familial forms of breast, ovarian, uterine, colorectal, pancreatic, renal, neuroendocrine, and nervous system neoplasms.

"Our laboratory is pleased to offer a service that helps not only with diagnosis but also with treatment management, risk assessment, and familial screening," said Warren Sanger, Ph.D., laboratory director. "We anticipate that these hereditary cancer tests will be a valuable tool for physicians and their patients at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center."

Associate laboratory directors Jennifer Sanmann, Ph.D., and Tanner Hagelstrom, Ph.D., led the effort to internally develop and validate these panels for clinical use in close collaboration with the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

"We started small, launching a six-gene, high-risk breast cancer panel last November," Dr. Sanmann said. "With the addition of six new hereditary cancer panels, our services now encompass a wider range of hereditary cancer types."

The lab has been working closely with Sarah Thayer, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, chief of surgical oncology and program leader for cancer services in the clinical enterprise to ensure that physicians in many departments and divisions will find the tests useful.

"Physician input is critical to our laboratory's test development," Dr. Sanmann said. "We continually strive to expand our laboratory services in ways that are meaningful for patient care."

Dr. Thayer praised the collaboration between the Human Genetics Laboratory and the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, saying the newly developed panels will advance insights into people who may have familial cancers.

"Genomic characterization of tumors, as well as patients who get these tumors, is really going to be at the forefront of cancer diagnosis and treatment, and hopefully prevention, as well," she said.

Licensed and certified genetic counselors are available through the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center's Hereditary Cancer Clinic to help navigate the complexities of the testing process and to discuss the genetic results with patients. The test can be ordered through the OneChart ordering system, under "genetics" and "hereditary cancer panels."

For more detailed information about the specifics of each of these hereditary cancer panels, visit the Human Genetics Laboratory website.

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