By Anne Katz, PhD, RN, FAAN

Consideration of genetics is rapidly becoming part of routine cancer care—and as nurses, we need to be up to date and confident in our understanding of this topic. While it is not expected that we should be experts, we do need a working knowledge of hereditary cancers, how they present in families, the “real” risks, and when and how to refer patients for genetic counseling. In addition, we need to be aware of the ethical issues involved in genetic testing. We are trusted by our patients, and many of us were educated long before we knew anything about these cancers. We must update our knowledge so that we can educate and support our patients and their families.

This year at the ONS 40th Annual Congress, we have a preconference session devoted to the topic of genetics and the oncology nurse. You’ll learn about hereditary cancer syndromes, how to recognize them, and the role of surveillance for early identification of cancer and potential risk reduction for those impacted. Risk assessment and genetic testing can reduce anxiety in those who are not at increased risk and may identify those who do not need genetic testing because their risk is low. In recent years, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests has led to patients assessing their own risk—and we need to be more informed than our patients and their families so that we can advise and provide guidance to them.

This preconference session will not only inform and educate, but it will also challenge your thinking with real world cases studies. Our need to know about this increasingly important aspect of cancer care is not going away—register for this preconference session and you’ll be ahead of the curve!

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