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UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's Hospital

Genetics and Risk Assessment

We provide individual counseling, risk assessment, genetic testing and surveillance. You and your loved ones can feel confident in receiving great care as our team's expertise meets the high standards of the American College of Surgeons.

Who can benefit from genetics services?

The number of diseases found to have a genetic cause is on the rise. However, family history of a disease does not always mean risk is high for everyone in the family. If you are concerned about your personal or family history, genetic testing may help you understand your individual risk factors and how others in your family may be affected.

"Hearing my results was empowering and unnerving at the same time. But, meeting with a genetic counselor added that objective and calming presence to a very emotional decision," Diann says.

Read her story

Our team provides services to individuals identified as having an increased risk of a variety of genetic disorders. Examples include:

Hereditary cancers such as:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Endocrine cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Renal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Uterine cancer

If you would like to fill out a cancer risk assessment form, a counselor will review your family's health history and determine if you would benefit from an appointment.

Cardio genetics such as:

  • Arrythmias
  • Cardiomyopathies
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol

Types of Genetics Services

Our team specializes in genetics and risk assessment. The services offered in our locations can include:

  • Genetic counseling
  • Risk assessment
  • Genetic testing
  • Explanation of genetic results
  • Recommendations for surveillance
  • Referrals to specialists for follow-up

Genetics Risk Assessments

A Genetics Risk Assessment has four components:

Initial Assessment
A genetic professional will help you complete a thorough family history. Based on this history, you will receive and education about reducing your disease risk factors and information about hereditary syndromes and genetic testing.

Genetic Test
A DNA sample is obtained and sent to a specialized lab. The testing looks for changes, sometimes called mutations or variants, in your DNA. Genetic testing is not appropriate for everyone. To pursue genetic testing is a very personal decision. The genetic professional will walk you through the decision-making process and discuss the implications of genetic testing.

Post-test Education
Results of genetic testing are reviewed with you in detail. Genetics professionals will discuss the results, help you understand what this means for you and your family, and how to talk to your family about your test results.

Ongoing Support
Our goal is to do everything we can to reduce your risk and that of your loved ones. Whatever your risk may be, you will receive referrals for everything from lifestyle changes to appropriate medical providers.

"We spend a lot of time with patients processing the medical implications, but also the emotional implications. We discuss how to talk with at-risk family members, what preventive surgery would entail, as well as how patients can manage risks in a way that fits their goals and philosophies."
- Genetic counselor at UnityPoint Health

Confidentiality

Our Genetics Team places the highest priority on maintaining our patients' confidentiality. No one except your medical provider has access to your records without your consent.

Insurance

If you choose to have genetic testing, most health insurance companies cover part or all the testing costs. Insurance coverage is verified before proceeding with genetic testing.

Our Team

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Julie Thompson, ARNP-BC

Julie is one of the Genetic Nurse Practitioners at the Nassif Community Cancer Center.  She completed her genetic studies with the City of Hope Cancer Research Hospital.  Julie is board certified by the National Certification Corporation.

Julie chose to become a Genetic Nurse Practitioner because she is a self-proclaimed "total science geek." "I like to help people understand their health issues, so being a nurse practitioner in genetics is a perfect fit," she says.

Julie is motivated each day by the fast-changing pace of the genetics field. "We are finding more and more ways that genetics can help prevent and treat cancer." When asked what qualities best describe her care Julie says, "I'm a really good listener. I do promise to do everything I can to help you understand the world of genetics and what it means to you."

Julie's message to patients is, "Knowing your cancer risk doesn't have to be scary. I'll help you understand what you can do to prevent cancer for yourself and others in your family."

Listen to Julie speak about genetics services on the LiveWell Talk On... podcast

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Julie Shaw, ARNP, DNP, ANP-BC, GNP-C

Julie K. Shaw ARNP, DNP, ANP-BC, GNP-C is one of the Genetic Nurse Practitioners at the Nassif Community Cancer Center. She graduated with her ADN, from Kirkwood, her BSN and MSN (ANP/GNP) from the University of Iowa and her DNP from Maryville University of Saint Louis. She has a post-master’s certification in oncology through ONC.

Julie became interested in Genetics through her work in neurology, palliative care and survivorship where she was formally introduced to the field of Genetics. She is currently the Director of Graduate Nursing Programs at a local University and incorporates genetic/genomic education into the curricula for both masters and doctoral students, utilizing the expertise of Julie Thompson, ARNP.

Julie believes nursing’s focus is always holistic and directed by health promotion and disease prevention. Genetics holds the potential to dramatically change how we approach these principles in an highly individualized manner. This can occur best by identifying, screening and treating risks as early as possible by providing genetics counseling in a holistic, specialized, interdisciplinary setting like the Nassif Community Cancer Center.