In this edition of The Onco’Zine Brief Peter Hofland talks with Laura Panos Smith, a certified genetic counselor and vice president of commercial operations at Ambry Genetics.

Ms. Smith leads a large team responsible for the implementation of key strategic initiatives for Ambry Genetics.

This includes the daily support and education for patients and healthcare providers, as well as marketing and sales support functions.

Ms. Smith has been with Ambry Genetics since 2013 and she has held a number of positions, most recently as the National Director of the Genetic Specialist team – a position she held for three years.

Before joining the company, she worked as a Board Certified Genetic Counselor at Baylor Sammons Cancer Center, in Dallas, Texas, where she led an initiative to grow the oncology and cardiology genetics services.

Ambry Genetics, the company Ms. Smith works for, is a leading clinical diagnostics company offering genetic testing, which includes screening and diagnosis, for conditions including hereditary cancer, hereditary cardiovascular disease, neuro-developmental disorders, epilepsy and others.

As part of Konica Minolta Precision Medicine, Ambry Genetics translates scientific research into clinically actionable test results based upon a deep understanding of the human genome and the biology behind genetic disease.

This enables more prescriptive, proactive and preventive care.

But what is genetic testing?

As mentioned in a previous episode of The Onco’Zine Brief, Genetic testing is a specific type of medical test designed to identify changes in an individuals’ chromosomes, genes, or proteins.

A genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition.

It can also help determine a person’s chance of developing or even passing on a genetic disorder, which may lead to a specific disease.

Generally, there are two main types of genetic testing:

If, for example, you have been diagnosed with a type of cancer, the doctor may have told you about somatic or tumor testing.

Such a tests involves a sample of the tumor.

This test studies the DNA to determine what kind of treatment may be best for you – as a patient.
It may look at different, targeted or even personalized treatments to determine which may be better or worse.

An oncologist – or his or her team – will be the best resource to discuss this type of genetic testing and the results:

The second type of genetic testing is called germline genetic testing. This test is using a blood or saliva sample.

The DNA in blood cells is studied to see if there is a mutation that causes an increased risk to develop cancer or another disease

This test is for both people who have a specific disease cancer but also for people who do not.
And the results of this test can be best discussed with a genetic counselor or healthcare provider.

While genetic testing is available for many, it may not make sense for everyone.

A genetic counselor can help a patient determine their risk for genetic disease and catch genetic diseases at an earlier more treatable phase.