Genetic counseling: Making an informed decision


Lisa Owens, of Beachwood, was stunned when her cousin was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, but the situation took a more personal turn when genetic testing revealed that she and her mother, Sherrl Wenzel, carried the gene that increased their risk of contracting ovarian and breast cancer from less than 1 to 94 percent.

In a new video by Akron Children’s Hospital, Owens and Wenzel discuss how a visit to the hospital’s Center for Genetics and Metabolism changed, and possibly saved, their lives.

After a battle with breast cancer, Wenzel and her daughter decided to undergo genetic testing and counseling. As a result, both mother and daughter learned they are carriers of the BRCA 1 gene, giving them a 94 percent lifetime chance of having breast cancer, with a 70 percent chance of reoccurrence of breast cancer.

Armed with that knowledge and support of the genetics center, Wenzel and Owens decided to have double mastectomies, and Owens also had her ovaries removed. Now Wenzel and Owens have less than a 0.5 percent chance of developing breast cancer, an even smaller percentage than the normal population.

“You need to have someone sit and draw pictures of the gene and the chances of having the gene and how you get the gene,” said Wenzel, “so when you walk out of the center you have no question what was causing this and what you need to do.”

Owens and Wenzel explain the process of undergoing genetic counseling and the role the center plays in helping people through the process. The video is available at Type in the keyword, "genetic counseling." You can also find the video on

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