Baptist Cancer Genetics Program

Since 1997, the Baptist Cancer Genetics Program has provided adult cancer genetic counseling services to Memphis and the Mid-South. Cancer genetic counselors coordinate genetic testing, help identify patients who have hereditary risks for cancer, and participate as part of the oncology team. Patients and their family members who have hereditary cancer risks benefit from increased cancer surveillance and cancer prevention strategies.

Genetic counseling services are provided to oncology and surgery clinics in West Tennessee and North Mississippi. Since its inception, the program has expanded its reach, staffing, and patient volumes, and approximately 400 patients were referred for cancer genetic counseling. Due to the success of outreach and awareness programs, the referral base has grown with regard to geography and medical specialty. Physician and nurse practitioner specialties, including oncology, surgery, radiology, gynecology, gastroenterology, and internal medicine, referred patients for cancer genetic counseling.

The Baptist Cancer Genetics program was pleased to become an official department of the new Baptist Cancer Center. This transition will allow better streamlining of referrals and consultations from groups with whom the program currently collaborates.

In partnership with the Tennessee Cancer Coalition and the Colon Cancer Coalition, former genetics counselors Lorraine Naylor, MS, CGC, and Carolyn Horton, MS, CGC, planned and executed the first colorectal cancer awareness 5K walk/run in the greater Memphis area. Fundraising proceeds were redistributed to the local community and earmarked for free colorectal cancer screening events.

The program facilitates the Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Discussion Group. The group includes people with inherited mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and their family members and friends. This year, the support group drew its largest number of participants—a reflection of the group’s expansion to include carriers of other breast cancer predisposition genes (e.g., p53 and PTEN) and as a result of the participation of local representatives for the support group FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered).