Frequently Asked Questions

We would like to help you to understand your condition and manage your care by providing you with the following useful information. Use the resources on this page to help you organize your case and actively participate in your cancer care.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

What insurance plans are accepted?

We accept most major insurance plans. Don’t see your insurance listed? Contact us to verify if you are in-network.

  • AETNA
  • Cigna
  • Health Net
  • United Healthcare
  • UMR
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • IEHP
  • California Choice
  • HUMANA
  • Medicare
  • Meritain Health
  • TRICARE
  • Scan Health Plan

What is cancer?

Cancer is a group of diseases where abnormal cells develop and begin to grow out of control. Often times, these abnormal cells are recognized by the body’s own immune system and destroyed. Sometimes this abnormal growth can develop into masses or tumors that can continue to grow and spread throughout the body. Cancer can also develop in cells of the blood and don’t usually form solid tumors.

Cancer occurs when changes happen to the genes in the body that is responsible for controlling how cells function, including how they grow and divide. As cancers continue to grow, it is possible for additional genetic changes to happen.

What are some things I should expect when I start cancer treatment?

When you get the news that you have cancer, it can be a shock. Between telling your family, dealing with strain on your finances, and deciding on a course of cancer treatment, that news can take a heavy toll very quickly. In the midst of all that you have to do, you also need to search for “chemotherapy treatment near me”. Fortunately, there is a great solution available to you.

At High Desert Oncology Center, we’re here to help you through this tough process. As you begin your cancer treatment, you may be unsure of what to expect. Here are three things our patients tell us they didn’t see coming when they started cancer treatment:

  • You’ll get all the information on the possibilities – both positive and bleak. It’s essential that you’re fully informed of the possible side effects of chemotherapy before you start treatment. Your doctor will talk with you about everything that will go right, and everything that could go wrong. This information can be scary, and it’s ok to ask plenty of questions to make sure you feel completely comfortable with the course of treatment you choose.
  • Chemotherapy isn’t always delivered through an IV. While some people receive chemotherapy this way, others get chemo through a pill, or through a topical gel applied to the skin. Your doctor will talk with you about which type of chemotherapy makes the most sense for your needs.
  • You’ll need to be careful about visitors while you’re going through chemotherapy. Chemo weakens your immune system, and you’re more susceptible to colds and other illnesses than normal. You’ll need to limit your exposure to others while you go through chemotherapy.

When you’re ready to engage in effective, caring cancer treatment, we encourage you to reach out to us at High Desert Oncology Center. Our experienced staff will be there with you every step of the way through your cancer treatment.

How do I cope with cancer?

Just like each cancer is different, each person’s cancer journey is different as well. Whether you or a loved one has cancer, help is available. Our physicians and care team work tirelessly to care for our patients and our palliative care program is in place to help patients and their families cope with their cancer, no matter where they are in their journey. The National Cancer Institute provides publications for patients and their families to help them with ways to cope with cancer.

You can find these publications on the website of the National Cancer Institute.

Taking Time: Support for People With Cancer

Coping with Advanced Cancer

Facing Forward: When Someone You Love Has Completed Cancer Treatment

Other Helpful Resources include:
https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping
https://www.cancer.org/treatment/understanding-your-diagnosis/after-diagnosis/how-do-i-cope.html

What is the importance of full dose on schedule?

Studies show that for certain types of cancer, chemotherapy produces the best long-term results when patients receive the full dose on time every time. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan scientifically designed for you and based on your type of cancer, its stage of advancement, and your overall health. The plan will consist of specific chemotherapy agents at specific doses and intervals. This is called your “scheduled cycles.” Generally, treatments are given daily, weekly, or monthly, and your doctor will work with you to determine the most effective treatment schedule. To get the most from chemotherapy, it’s important to stick to a schedule of treatment and dose that you and your doctor initially set up.

What are some questions I should ask my Oncologist?

If possible, it is nice for the patient to bring a family member or friend to your appointments be a second set of ears. It is an emotional time for the patient, and it’s not uncommon to forget a lot of the information, especially during in the first few appointments. It’s a good idea to take notes, so that you can refer to them later to answer questions you may have.
It’s also a good idea to write down any questions or concerns you have prior to meeting with your oncologist so that he/she can make sure they have addressed your concerns.

Other common questions include:

  • Can I continue all my current medications?
  • Are there dietary restrictions or vitamins/supplements I should take or avoid?
  • Will this affect my ability to work?
  • Will I need to be in the hospital to receive treatment?
  • How will my treatment affect my daily activities and is there anything I should avoid or begin doing?
  • Can I get vaccinations before or during treatment? (Hepatitis C, Shingles, Pneumonia, Influenza)
  • Can I have non-cancer related surgery (i.e. knee or hip surgery) while on treatment?
  • Should I see a dentist prior to starting treatment?
  • How often do I need to schedule appointments?
  • What type of follow up can I expect during and once treatment is completed?
  • Should I get a second opinion?

What are some side effects?

Just as every person is different, every cancer is different. Depending on the type of cancer a person has and their overall health, they may or may not experience side effects from the treatment they are receiving for their cancer. Many advancements have been made to help minimize side effects that a person may experience when being treated for cancer. Certain medications can help to avoid unpleasant side effects such as nausea and vomiting. Other medications can help lower a patient’s risk for infection while being treated.

One of the most common side effects with any cancer treatment is fatigue. Getting plenty of rest will lessen the feeling of fatigue give your body time for healing. Staying hydrated, eating a healthy diet, and staying active will also help you feel better. Our care team can provide helpful information about other ways to manage side effects.

If you have any of the following side effects, it’s very important to call our office:

  • Fever over 100.4, with / without chills
  • Blood in urine, stools, or sputum
  • Breathing difficulty including shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Cough that produces yellow, green, brown or red sputum
  • Dehydration: excessive thirst, dark urine, decreased urination
  • Difficulty swallowing or eating / mouth sores
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, exhaustion or extreme weakness
  • Nausea, vomiting, constipation or uncontrolled diarrhea
  • Uncontrolled pain
  • Unusual or sudden onset of swelling, redness, or pain
  • Urination that is frequent, urgent or painful / Low back pain

Sometimes the side effects of treatment don’t occur for months or years after a person has received cancer treatment. It’s important for you and your oncologist to discuss any side effects that you are currently experiencing and potential late-term effects that you will need to be aware of.

Helpful Patient Resources:

The National Cancer Institute provides medical advice and practical tips to help you during chemotherapy. Learn about self-care, medical problems to call your doctor about, and questions to ask your doctor on topics including:

  • Anemia: Practical advice about anemia, tips to help people with cancer feel less tired, and signs to call your doctor about.
  • Appetite Loss: Practical tips to help people with cancer make eating easier, stay strong during chemotherapy and manage appetite changes.
  • Bleeding and Bruising: Practical steps to help people with cancer prevent bleeding problems during chemotherapy and know what problems to call your doctor about.
  • Constipation: Practical tips to help people with cancer prevent or relieve constipation and feel better during chemotherapy. Learn what foods can help and key questions to ask your doctor.
  • Diarrhea: Practical information to help people with cancer prevent or relieve diarrhea and feel better during chemotherapy. Learn what foods and drinks may help you feel better and what problems to call your doctor about.
  • Fatigue: Practical tips to help people with cancer make a plan to feel less tired and fatigued during chemotherapy.
  • Hair loss (Alopecia): Practical tips on how others have coped with hair loss (also called alopecia) during chemotherapy.
  • Lymphedema: Practical information for people with cancer about ways to manage and treat lymph fluid build up and know when to call your doctor.
  • Memory Changes: Practical information about what causes memory changes during chemotherapy.
  • Mouth and Throat Changes: Practical steps that people with cancer can take if their mouth or throat hurts during chemotherapy. Learn about a mouth rinse that can help, what foods to avoid, and questions to ask your doctor.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Practical tips and advice to help people with cancer prevent nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy. Learn what foods and drinks are easy on your stomach.
  • Nerve Changes: Practical information about nerve changes (also called peripheral neuropathy) and tips that have helped others during chemotherapy. Learn what changes to call your doctor about and questions to ask your doctor.
  • Pain: Practical advice to help people with cancer prevent or manage pain during chemotherapy treatment. Tips to help you track your pain, get the most from your pain medicine, and know when to call your doctor.
  • Sexual and Fertility Changes in Men: Practical information and answers to questions from men about sexual problems or fertility changes due to chemotherapy. Learn what questions to ask your doctor before treatment starts.
  • Sexual and Fertility Changes in Women: Practical information and answers to questions from women about sexual problems or fertility changes due to chemotherapy. Learn what questions to ask your doctor before treatment starts.
  • Skin and Nail Changes: Practical information to help people with cancer care for their skin and nails during chemotherapy and problems to call their doctor about.
  • Sleep Problems: Practical information about ways to manage sleep problems and ways your doctor can help.
  • Getting Help for Sleep Problems
  • Swelling (Fluid Retention): Practical information for people with cancer about what causes swelling (fluid retention) during chemotherapy, steps to take to prevent it, and when to call their doctor.
  • Urination Changes: Practical information about how to prevent or manage changes in urination during chemotherapy, problems to call your doctor about, and questions to ask your doctor.

The American Cancer Society also has some very good resources to help you deal with the following side effects:
Getting Help for Cancer Pain
Getting Help for Chemo Brain
Getting Help for Distress
Getting Help for Diarrhea
Getting Help for Fatigue
Getting Help for Mouth Sores
Getting Help for Nausea and Vomiting
Getting Help for Skin Changes

IMMUNOTHERAPY QUESTIONS

What is immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a type of biologic cancer treatment that boosts the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Your body’s immune system works to detect something that is harmful, and it produces antibodies, which are proteins that fight infection.

How does immunotherapy work?

Immunotherapy works in a variety of ways, by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, and by stopping cancer cells from spreading to other areas in the body. It helps a patient’s immune system work better at destroying existing cancer cells that have developed in the body.

Are there different kinds of immunotherapy?

There are several types of immunotherapy treatments and each of them works in different ways. Some boost the body’s immune system and others help train the immune system to specifically attack cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies are a type of immunotherapy. They are made in a laboratory to closely match natural immune system proteins. They are designed to attach to specific proteins on cancer cells which in turn directs the immune system to find and destroy these kinds of cells.

Other types of antibodies stimulate the body’s natural immune system so it can destroy cancer cells. When the immune system can find these cells, it can stop or slow cancer growth. Interferons and interleukins are two other common, non-specific immunotherapies. Both are made in a laboratory. Interferons help the immune system fight cancer and may slow the growth of cancer cells in the body, while interleukins help the body’s natural immune system produce cells that will destroy cancer.

Oncolytic virus therapy is a form of immunotherapy that uses genetically modified viruses to kill cancer cells. The first therapy of this kind was approved by the FDA in 2015 to treat melanoma. Researchers are currently testing other oncolytic viruses for different types of cancer in clinical trials, and they are also testing the viruses in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy.

T-cell therapy is currently available for only a handful of cancers and many more therapies are being evaluated in clinical trials. In T-cell therapy, some T-cells which are immune cells that fight infection, are removed from a patient’s blood. These cells then are changed in a laboratory, so they have specific proteins called receptors; these receptors then can recognize the cancer cells. The changed T-cells are returned to the patient’s body. Once there, they seek out and destroy cancer cells.

Cancer vaccines work by exposing the immune system to an antigen, which in turn triggers the immune system to recognize and destroy the antigen. There are currently 2 types of vaccines: prevention vaccines and treatment vaccines. You have probably heard of the HPV vaccine that protects against the human papillomavirus that is most widely known for causing Cervical Cancer. There is also a Hepatitis B vaccine which prevents a Hepatitis B virus infection that can cause liver cancer.

As a cancer treatment, cancer treatment vaccines (also known as therapeutic vaccines) are given to people with some type of cancer to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer. Therapeutic vaccines may prevent cancer from reoccurring, may destroy cancer cells that remain in the body after treatment, and slow or stop the growth or spread of cancer. Currently, most of these treatment vaccines are only available through clinical trials.

TREATMENT OPTIONS

What is bio/targeted therapy?

Knowing how cancer cells develop helps physicians to understand how targeted therapy works. All of the tissue in your body is made up of cells. There are many different cell types and each type has a specific function. Cancer begins when specific genes in healthy cells change. The change is called a mutation.

Genes tell cells how to make proteins that keep the cell working. If the genes change, these proteins change, too. This makes cells divide abnormally or live too long. When this happens, the cells grow out of control and form a tumor. Targeted cancer therapies are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecular targets that are involved in the growth, progression, and spread of cancer.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy can be a single drug or a combination of drugs used to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells throughout the body by preventing their ability to divide and reproduce. It can be used alone to treat cancer, and in some cases, it is used in combination with surgery or radiation treatments.

With certain cancers, the chemotherapy may be given as a treatment prior to surgery, in an effort to shrink a tumor’s mass. This is known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy. When it is given after surgery, to kill any remaining cancer cells in the body, it is called adjuvant chemotherapy. It can be used to delay the progression or prevent the recurrence of cancer.

With advanced-stage cancers, palliative chemotherapy may be given to slow the progression of cancer’s growth. It may also be used to reduce symptoms to help improve a patient’s quality of life. Oncologists have many effective options today to help treat patients with chemotherapy, however some can cause side effects. Fortunately, many other supportive treatments have been developed that can help minimize the side effects, allowing the patient to have the best quality of life as possible during treatment.

For many years, chemotherapy has been given to a patient in a clinic or hospital and administered intravenously. Thanks to extensive research and clinical trials, there are more drugs available today than ever before to treat cancer, either alone or in combination with other drugs or therapies. Depending on the type of cancer, some patients now may be given an ambulatory infusion pump that can be used at home.

Oral Chemotherapy

This type of chemotherapy is given to a cancer patient in the form of a pill or liquid that is swallowed by mouth. It works the same way as other types of chemotherapy and is just as strong. A patient receiving oral chemotherapy doesn’t need to be in a clinic or hospital to be treated. Instead, they can take the oral chemotherapy at home. While this is a convenience, patients still need to return to the clinic for lab tests, and evaluation of treatment. Oral chemotherapy can be more expensive than traditional types of therapies; some insurance plans may not pay for this type of chemotherapy or the patient’s co-pays may be higher.

If you are prescribed an oral chemotherapy, you will receive specific instructions on how it should be used. In addition, you will receive information on the safe storage, handling and disposal of the chemotherapy. It is important to take the medication on schedule and exactly as prescribed. It’s also important to let your physician and care team know immediately if you have any questions or about any side affects you may be experiencing.

How does bio/targeted Therapy differ from chemotherapy?

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you’ll be faced with many difficult decisions in a short period of time. It’s normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed as you try to decide what the next best steps are for your treatment. If you’re searching for an oncology center near me, High Desert Oncology Center is here to provide you with a top of the line oncologist in Victorville to help you through your battle with cancer.

At High Desert Oncology Center, we understand the difficulties that you’ll face throughout your cancer treatment. We understand the physical and mental strains that come with chemotherapy, and we’ll be there with you every step of the way. We’re happy to answer your questions, and we believe you should always be in charge of your own care. We’ll work with you to be sure that you understand every step of the treatment process, and you’ll never be left in the dark about what’s going to happen next.

When you’re searching for an oncology center near me, choosing High Desert Oncology Center is the right choice. We treat you with care and respect from the first day of your treatment to the final days of recovery. If you’re beginning cancer treatment, please reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help.

What types of bio/targeted therapies are available? And are there limitations to what they can do?

Thanks to endless hours of research and patients who have participated in clinical trials, we have several types of these therapies to use in our arsenal in the fight against cancer. They include:

  • Hormone Therapies: slow or stop the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors.
  • Signal Transduction Inhibitors: block the activities of molecules that participate in signal transduction, the process by which a cell responds to signals from its environment.
  • Gene Expression Modulators: modify the function of proteins that play a role in controlling gene expression.
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors: block the growth of new blood vessels to tumors necessary for tumors to grow.
  • Apoptosis Inducers: cause cancer cells to undergo a process of controlled cell death called apoptosis.
  • Immunotherapies: work by triggering or stimulating a person’s immune system to destroy cancer cells.
  • Monoclonal Antibodies: the deliver toxic molecules can cause death of cancer cells specifically. Once the antibody has bound to its target cell, the toxic molecule that is linked to the antibody – such as a radioactive substance or a poisonous chemical – is taken up by the cell, ultimately killing that cell.
  • Cancer Vaccines and Gene Therapy: are sometimes considered targeted therapies because they interfere with the growth of specific cancer cells.

Biologic/targeted therapies do have some limitations. Cancer cells can become resistant to the therapy. Either the target itself can change or mutate, so that the targeted therapy no longer interacts well with it. The other thing that can happen is that the tumor will find a new way to achieve tumor growth that does not depend on the target.

What is hematology, and what role can it play in my cancer treatment?

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer, you may be looking for a blood doctor, or a hematologist near me, who can give you insight into your disease. We offer hematology care led by Dr. Vir Nanda, a physician with many decades of experience, to ensure you get the effective treatment and compassionate care you need.

A hematologist who works with people who have or may have cancer specializes in examining blood cells to find abnormalities that may indicate disease. Your hematologist will work with you throughout your chemotherapy treatment. At each treatment, a small amount of blood will be drawn. This blood will be analyzed by your hematologist to ensure that your immune system is strong enough to receive chemotherapy.

Over the course of chemotherapy, the immune system weakens. It’s stronger on some days than others. Your hematologist will keep you safe by ensuring your blood signals that your immune system is strong enough to receive your scheduled treatment. If your immune system appears to be too compromised, you can always reschedule your treatment for another day.

At High Desert Oncology Center, we understand how scary it can be when you or a loved one get a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Vir Nanda and the rest of us are here to help you every step of the way, with state-of-the-art medical care. Reach out to us today to learn more about our treatment options.

Our infusion center is conveniently located on-site. Our helpful staff are here to ensure you feel comfortable every step of the way. During your visits, feel free to bring a book, iPad, or even a few family members to keep you company. Our facility is state-of-the-art and filled with comforting staff

What is palliative care?

Palliative care provides support for patients facing debilitating chronic diseases and life-threatening illnesses. It’s an important part of the patient-focused care that our team provides. Palliative care is used in conjunction with the physician’s plan of care, not in place of it. As part of our team approach to care, our patients can receive this specialized service at all stages of their illness, while they are receiving their treatments at our offices, and during follow-up care. Palliative Care Practitioners are experts with pain and symptom relief, as well as understanding and coordinating patients’ care.

The proven benefits of palliative care show that it improves quality of life for patients. Our goal is to help manage a patient’s side effects, reduce their anxiety and depression, and provide effective pain control. An important goal of palliative care is help patients remain independent and live a full life, staying as active as possible while fighting their illness. It has been proven to increase life expectancy.

Palliative care provides emotional support to patients and their families when they are faced with difficult decisions about goals of care and complex treatment choices. It has been proven to decrease emergency room visits, hospital admissions, and readmissions, and keeping patients in their home where they are most comfortable, for as long as possible.

Palliative Treatments

When your doctor begins to discuss palliative treatments, you may feel a sense of dread. While some people associate palliative care treatments with terminal illness, many people (including those without terminal illness) can benefit from this type of care. Palliative care simply means care that provides you comfort and relief from pain as you go through an illness and/ or treatment. Palliative care is not the same thing as hospice care, and we are proud to offer it here at High Desert Oncology Center. Cancer can have negative impacts on mental health, and may cause anxiety and depression. Medicines that help to improve your mental state as you undergo chemotherapy can be an effective form of palliative care.

Palliative care treatments can also help to increase your energy as you go through treatment at our cancer clinic. Many people who undergo chemotherapy find that they have too much fatigue to do the things they want to do, such as playing with their pets or going on a family vacation. Palliative care can provide some relief and an increase in energy to help you live your life as normally as possible. If you’re going through cancer treatment, consider using palliative care to help you make it through to the other side. At High Desert Oncology Center, we’re happy to discuss palliative care options to help you get through a difficult time in your life.

What makes High Desert the best local oncologist?

When preparing to undergo cancer treatment, you’re going to want to work with the best local oncologist in the Victorville area. We make every effort to prove that oncologist is Dr. Vir Nanda, supported by the rest of the team at High Desert Oncology Center.

Our personable, top-ranked approach to care includes short waiting times and flexible appointments. We are also proud that our highly-trained and friendly team includes members fluent in English, Spanish, and Hindi. No matter your age, background, or the nature of your health concerns, you’ll find comfort, compassion, and healing here with us. We work closely with you to understand the nature of your symptoms and outlook week to week. Depending on your oncological conditions, treatment may take a variety of different forms. We want to be sure that we are treating your cancer the best possible way for your lifestyle and your body.

If you’re searching for the best local oncologist, someone who treats you as a person, not as a number, consider High Desert Oncology Center. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help you through this difficult time in your life.

GENE QUESTIONS

What is genetic testing?

Genetic tests are done to look for specific changes or mutations in a person’s chromosomes, genes or proteins. It is used to identify genetic conditions or a person’s risk of either developing a genetic disorder or passing on an inherited disease to a future generation. For people with a family history of cancer, it’s an important tool that can help identify the potential for problems, make decisions to monitor for early detection, or to decrease or prevent the chance of future disease. A genetic counselor can help a patient with understanding the potential benefits of genetic testing.

Cancer that appears to run in families isn’t always caused by an inherited mutation, but rather shared environments or lifestyles. If a patient does test positive for an inherited genetic mutation, it is not a certainty that they will develop cancer. The tests are done on blood and other tissue samples. At the time the test is done, a patient doesn’t necessarily have cancer but may have a family history so they are choosing genetic testing as a proactive approach as a means of awareness.

Genetic tests results can help an oncologist:

  • Determine if further testing is necessary.
  • Customize a cancer screening plan that may differ from the currently recommended ages for these tests.
  • Suggest strategies that can help a patient lower their risk of developing cancer.

Cancer awareness is key in finding the disease early when the chances for a successful cure are the highest.

What is the difference between genetic testing and genomic testing?

Oncologists order a genomic analysis test on tissue samples from a cancerous tumor to look for genetic mutations. Cancer has different types of biomarkers which can be identified in the genes and proteins that make up a tumor. Just as every cancer is different, each person’s biomarkers are different.

The test looks at the entire genetics (DNA) which gives important information about how aggressive the cancer is, how well the cancer is likely to respond to chemotherapy treatment, and gives a ranking that indicates the likelihood of a later recurrence. This helps the oncologist determine the correct type of treatment for cancer.

It also provides invaluable information about whether the cancer is likely to spread to other parts of the body or if cancer has an actionable mutation, which is an abnormality in the genetics of the tumor cells for which there is either an FDA approved targeted agent or one that is currently in trial or part of a future trial.

A genomic test can be used for certain types and stages of breast cancer, early-stage prostate cancer, and some stages of colon cancer. The information learned from these tests helps oncologists determine the best course of treatment. These tests can also indicate how aggressive the cancer is, who may benefit from immediate cancer treatment, or who can choose active surveillance.

What are BRCA gene mutations?

Normal BRCA genes work to repair cell damage, suppress tumor development, and keep cells growing normally. They produce proteins that help repair damaged DNA. Everyone has BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes. When these genes have abnormalities or mutations, there is a greater risk of developing certain types of cancer. These damaged genes can be inherited from one or both of these genes from biological parents. When certain BRCA mutations are inherited from both parents, there is an increased risk of developing a rare form of anemia, a syndrome associated with childhood solid tumors, and acute myeloid leukemia. Both men and women can have these genetic mutations, and the gene mutations can be passed on by either the mother or father to their daughters or sons or both.

Compared to the general population, people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have a higher incidence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. The Norwegian, Dutch, and Icelandic populations also have a higher prevalence. When women have BRCA mutations, they are most often diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer. There is an increased risk for triple-negative breast cancer, a more aggressive and often difficult cancer to treat. Men with BRCA mutations are at a higher risk of developing breast, testicular, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Other cancers that have been associated with BRCA mutations are cervical, uterine, fallopian tube, colon, peritoneal, gallbladder, bile duct, and melanoma cancers.

Several methods of screening may be used to look for BRCA mutations. When a family member has been identified as having a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, tests can look for a specific harmful mutation in the genes that are affected. Multigene testing is used to look for harmful mutations in many genes. Oncologists also look at their patient’s personal and family history to determine if they are at a greater likelihood of having a harmful BRCA mutation.

  • A patient who has had cancer in both breast
  • Breast and ovarian cancers in the same woman or in the same family
  • A patient who has been diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50
  • Multiple family members diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Two or more primary types of cancers associated with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations in a single family member
  • Male breast cancer
  • A patient with Ashkenazi Jewish ethnicity

When multiple family members have been diagnosed with the same cancer, testing for genetic mutations is recommended.

​If willing to undergo testing, the first person that is still living, that has been diagnosed with the cancer will likely be the one that is tested to see if a genetic mutation exists. If that person tests positive for the genetic mutation, then insurance companies are more likely to cover the cost of additional testing for other family members who have the same cancer diagnosis or are at high risk.

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to pay for both genetic counseling and BRCA testing for women who meet the criteria outlined by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines. For individuals who qualify for this testing, insurance companies are required to cover the entire cost of genetic counseling and BRCA testing. Genetic counselors can help to determine if your genetic testing will be covered.

​When recommended by a physician, most health insurance plans will cover the cost of genetic testing. Patients should verify with their insurance company to understand what type of services will be covered, prior to being tested.

Take The Next Step

Conveniently located in Victorville, CA, High Desert Oncology Center is capable of providing the care you need close to your home. Our friendly, courteous staff is always willing to answer questions, and we make every effort to make your visit as comfortable as possible.