It is hard to imagine any other field in contemporary medicine with more astonishing and rapid progress than cancer genetics. In fact, if we take a moment to recall how we used to approach patients with these conditions just a few years ago, we realize how dramatically the new landscape we are currently facing has shifted.
This book is intended to provide the essential tools needed to understand clinical cancer genetics. The emphasis on clinical practice is designed to assist practitioners in the daily challenges of caring for patients with inherited cancer predisposition. Accordingly, the content is organized in a way that assists in every step of the continuum of care, including tools to help guide the formulation of a differential diagnosis, understand available genetic testing options, enable logical and informed interpretation of results, and educate individuals and their families about strategies to prevent cancer development. Approaches on how to effectively and thoughtfully counsel patients—from pre-test counseling and relaying test results to assisting in navigating the legal implications of hereditary conditions and coping with the psychological challenges emanating from them—are also addressed.
Given the wide spectrum of different professionals involved in the care of individuals and families with inherited cancers, the aim of this book is to serve as a practical and comprehensive resource for the entire team of providers, including physicians, genetic counselors, nurses, psychologists, physician assistants, geneticists, and others. In particular, this book should be useful not only for specialized cancer genetics clinics, but also for healthcare professionals in any field who are seeking basic knowledge and tools to improve their skills in the identification of patients with possible hereditary cancer syndromes and recognize which patients should be referred to a high-risk/clinical genetics specialty program. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we hope that this book serves as a guide and comprehensive reference for the care of patients with hereditary cancer syndromes not only at the time of diagnosis but also throughout their entire lifespan.