Cristi Radford on the Nurse Navigator's Role in Genetic Counseling
Cristi Radford, MS, CGC
Published Online: Friday, October 5, 2012
Cristi Radford, MS, CGC, Certified Genetic Counselor, Genetic Education Program, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, explains the multifaceted role that oncology nurse navigators play in the genetic counseling and cancer risk assessment process.
Radford believes that nurse navigators are able to impact genetic counseling the most in the community setting, since this is where many patients are diagnosed and treated. As one of the first individuals to interact with a patient, the nurse navigator should look for signs of a hereditary symptom in order to determine if the patient is a good candidate for genetic counseling or risk assessment. If the navigator feels the patient's cancer is hereditary they can advise the treatment team and the patient to seek genetic counseling.
Nurse navigators may also be tasked with addressing many of the myths associated with genetic counseling and cancer risk assessment. Patients have many questions regarding their insurance and possible discrimination that nurse navigators may need to answer first in order to move forward with the risk assessment process.
Genetic counseling—including testing and risk assessment—is one of the most rapidly growing areas of oncology and has become the standard of care for patients with a personal and family history of breast, ovary, or colon cancer.