Living Well: Genetic cancer screenings

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Doctors are calling it a huge breakthrough in medical care. 

Genetic screening for breast, ovarian and colon cancers are now available. 

Genetic testing has been around for a while, but Dr. Jill Jennings with Baptist Health Hospital says it’s been unaffordable. 

Now, big changes in healthcare have made it affordable to Arkansans. 

“We are screening for eight different cancers,” says Dr. Jennings. 

Dr. Jennings says the genetic screening they now offer at Baptist is a priority for her practice. 

They screen for ovary, breast, uterus, melanoma, pancreas, prostate, kidney and bladder cancers. 

“Now we can get some very valuable information from it that helps us know how to screen people differently, and how to treat people differently,” says Jennings. 

Nurse practitioner Amanda Payne says she has a family history of breast and colon cancers. That’s why she decided to get it done, through a simple blood test. 

“That sense of a little bit of comfort and reassurance knowing that you don’t have something a little more significant,” says Payne. 

The results show if there is any genetic mutation. If there’s not, then it gives you a percentage risk of developing cancer. 

“I know now that I should be screened at an earlier age than the standard mammogram recommended age screening,” Payne says. 

The option is giving many people a piece of mind. 

“Fill out a form that asks eight basic questions and we’re able to kind of triage those people in a high risk to have those genes or not,” Jennings explains. 

If you have a family history of cancer or know a family member has been diagnosed at a young age, this is a screening you should take. 

Dr. Jennings says genetic screening is covered 100 percent on almost all insurance companies if you meet the criteria.  

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