Cancer screening offered in Bloomington

Initial screening free, genetic testing more costly

The Olcott Center for Cancer Education at Bloomington Hospital is offering to help women solve one of life's greatest health mysteries: whether or not they have the gene mutation for breast or ovarian cancer.

Interested women can schedule one free assessment consultation at the center to determine whether genetic testing is necessary for them. However, the genetic risk assessment itself is less affordable — it runs at $2,995.

"We're sitting down, and we're doing genetic breast cancer risk assessment," said Janice Ross, manager of the Olcott Center. "We're reviewing with women their own personal medical history, their cancer history and their family medical history."

So far, 13 women have gone through the assessment consultation, Ross said, but only a few of them chose to go through with the genetic testing.

Ross said women are first advised to contact their insurance companies before signing up for the genetic testing. According to a news release from the Olcott Center, insurance companies usually cover 80 percent to 90 percent of the costs of the procedure.

Hospital workers draw one tube of blood for the test, then send it to a lab. Results come back in about three weeks, Ross said.

Those who do go through the genetic testing and discover they have the specific identified genetic mutation have several options, she said. They can do self-examinations more often, and they can also talk to their doctors about having their breasts or ovaries removed. Removal of the organs does not completely eliminate the risk for development of the cancer, she said.

Ross said that so far, the youngest woman to go through the free consultation has been in her early 30s. At-risk college students would usually not be the first ones in their families to be tested, so they would likely already know if the gene was present.

Regardless, Ross said the Olcott Center still wants to offer the testing to college students.

"Honestly, younger women are often very likely to have a gene for breast cancer," she said.

For more information on the free consultations or genetic risk assessments, call the Olcott Center at 812-353-5669.

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