Continuing to provide the highest quality care locally, Research Expert and Medical Geneticist Janice Zunich, MD, has been appointed director of the Cancer Genetics Risk program at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System. She currently serves as the American College of Medical and Molecular Genetics representative to the national Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons.
As part of the Community Care Network, Inc. of physicians, she will be responsible for genetic counseling, risk assessment and testing at the Women’s Diagnostic Centers of Community Hospital, Munster, St. Catherine Hospital, East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center, Hobart.
“With a strong background in cancer genetics, clinical genetics and cytogenetics and experience at the Women’s Diagnostic Center High Risk Clinics, Dr. Zunich will continue to offer insight and be a valuable member of our cancer treatment team,” said Donald P. Fesko, President and Chief Executive Officer, Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana, Inc. “Her expertise and knowledge will help us further enhance the patient experience.”
A graduate of Ohio State University’s College of Medicine, Zunich completed a fellowship in Genetics in the Department of Pediatrics at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. She is board certified in Clinical Genetics and Clinical Cytogenetics by the American Board of Medical Genetics. She also is board certified in Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics. She has written and co-authored numerous abstracts, papers and publications that discuss genetics and disease.
She recently retired from Indiana University School of Medicine-Northwest as a clinical associate professor of Medical Genetics after 32 years.
As director of the Cancer Genetics Risk program, Zunich will oversee cancer risk assessments, genetic consultations and genetic testing for patients diagnosed with cancer and/or patients with a strong family history of cancer.
Advances in technology, high-tech imaging and radiation therapy systems are enabling physicians to detect cancer earlier and provide more precise, more comfortable treatments than ever before. At Community Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center, members of the oncology team work together with the High Risk Clinics, Cancer Genetics staff and the Community Cancer Research Foundation on treatment plans and follow up.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, exceeded only by lung cancer. Statistics indicate that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The stage at which breast cancer is detected influences a woman’s chance of survival; if detected early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent.
Genetic testing may help some women learn whether or not they have an increased likelihood of developing breast cancer or whether inherited factors have contributed to their own or a family member’s cancer. The decision whether to have genetic testing is a personal choice that can be made at the time of a genetic counseling appointment or at a future date. For many people, a cancer risk assessment can be provided through genetic counseling alone, without the use of genetic tests. However, in some cases, testing may help you and your physician make important decisions about your medical care.
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, genetic counseling may be useful for you:
- Have you or a close relative been diagnosed with cancer before age 50?
- Do you have more than one blood relative with the same type of cancer? If yes, is the same type of cancer found in more than one generation?
- Has anyone in your family had more than one type of cancer, not including basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers?
- Has anyone in your family had cancer on both sides of the body, as in breasts, kidneys or eyes?
- Are you related to someone who is known to have an inherited mutation that can cause cancer?
For more information about comprehensive cancer care at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System, visit comhs.org/services/cancer-care. To find out more about cancer risk and genetic counseling, call for an appointment, 219-934-8856.