Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Staff Snapshot

Gayun Chan-Smutko, MS, CGC

Genetic counselor, Gayun Chan-Smutko

Gayun Chan-Smutko, MS, CGC

Gayun Chan-Smutko, MS, CGCSenior Genetic Counselor in theCenter for Cancer Risk Assessment(CCRA)
Years at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center: 8 years

What influenced your decision to become a healthcare worker?I worked in the biotech industry for 6 years prior to pursuing my Masters degree. My first love has always been genetics. However, I didn't learn of the genetic counseling profession until I attended an intensive shortcourse on mammalian and experimental genetics at the Jackson Labs. I met genetic counselors and medical geneticists there and learned more about the profession. I realized it was a perfect match for my desire to be a part of genetics education and to work with patients directly as part of a healthcare team.

What drew you to the Cancer Center?I started as a genetic counseling intern at the CCRA for my cancer rotation and knew that the Mass General Cancer Center was the ideal fit for me.

What is your favorite part of working here?I really enjoy working with our patients and the CCRA team, as well as the Cancer Center staff, researchers and clinicians. As a spouse of a Mass General Cancer Center patient, we have experienced first-hand the top-notch care and dedication of the inpatient and outpatient staff. I wouldn't want to work anywhere else.

Do you have any advice for those dealing with a genetically-inherited condition or their caregivers/loved ones?An inherited condition such as a cancer susceptibility syndrome is a chronic condition in the sense that the genetic susceptibility is always present, and necessitates more frequent and regular screening than the average person. From the medical management standpoint, an individual with a cancer susceptibility syndrome may not have disease (i.e. a tumor or cancer) but should receive early-detection methods and interventions to reduce future risk. Knowing that one has a cancer susceptibility syndrome also has implications for family members such as siblings and children. We strive to support the patient and the family as a whole, and encourage patients to take advantage of the services available at the Cancer Center. Additionally, there are many syndrome-specific organizations that provide an excellent network of support for patients and loved ones, and many of our patients feel that they benefit from these resources.

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