April 2013

NCH adds genetic counselor

Northwest Community Healthcare's genetic counseling program welcomes a new member who is helping patients and their families identify and manage their hereditary risks of developing cancer.

Avis Gibons, MS, CGC, a licensed and board-certified genetic counselor with experience in both clinical and research settings, is now serving patients whose personal or family medical histories indicate an increased risk of developing cancer. In her role, Gibons meets with patients to review personal and family medical histories, assesses patients' risks of developing cancer, coordinates genetic testing and discusses results, and presents cancer screening and risk reduction options.

Gibons says that the multidisciplinary Commission on Cancer, established by the American College of Surgeons, considers genetic counseling a standard of service necessary to ensure quality and comprehensive cancer care delivery. By helping to identify patients at increased risk of developing cancer, genetic counseling can have dramatic effects on early detection and cancer outcome. In addition, genetic counseling empowers patients to make informed decisions about cancer screening, cancer prevention and genetic testing.

Before joining NCH, Gibons served as genetic counselor at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital in Chicago, where she assisted in establishing a formal high-risk cancer genetics clinic. Dedicated to raising awareness about genetic contributions to disease, she also has designed human genetics course curriculum for clinical research professionals, presented seminars in genetics to community members, and delivered continuing medical education in cancer risk assessment and hereditary cancer syndromes to healthcare providers. Gibons has completed a certificate in clinical cancer genetics from City of Hope, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Gibons is an adjunct faculty member in the Division of Science and Health Careers at Oakton Community College, where she prepares students for careers in medicine and health sciences. Her research on the impact of genetic medicine on the employer-based healthcare system and on coverage and reimbursement of genetic tests and services has been cited in a report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information about NCH's genetic counseling team, or to obtain Gibons' contact information, please visit