Dr. Theodora Ross talks about her career in medicine, her role as director of UT Southwestern’s Cancer Genetics Program, and her new book, A Cancer in the Family, a personal and scientific story highlighting the latest science of cancer genetics.
This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. If you have a history of cancer in your family, you may be wondering if you should get a genetic test to see if you have any genetic mutations that might predispose you to cancer. My guest has had a lot of experience with that issue, professionally and personally.
Theodora Ross fully intended to write her book on cancer genetics in third person.
But when you run a cancer lab and have treated thousands of patients and have had the disease yourself and describe your own family as “probably a big, juicy, cancery-feast to the researchers,” being personal was really the only option.
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There are 13 million people with cancer in the United States, and it’s estimated that about 1.3 million of these cases are hereditary. Yet despite advanced training in cancer genetics and years of practicing medicine, Dr. Theo Ross was never certain whether the history of cancers in her family was simple bad luck or a sign that they were carriers of a cancer-causing genetic mutation.
1. You Might Be Wrong About the Kinds of Cancer in Your Family
“It’s shocking how inaccurate family histories are,” says Theodora Ross, MD, PhD, professor of internal medicine, director of the Cancer Genetics Program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and the author of A Cancer in the Family: Take Control Of Your Genetic Inheritance.
Thanks to breakthroughs in technology, the market for genetic tests that give patients information about their genes has surged over the past decade. According to one recent estimate, there are now more than 60,000 on the market.
An estimated 10 percent of cancer cases are considered hereditary. This hour, we’ll learn how we can spot the patterns of inherited cancer with Dr. Theodora Ross, director of the Cancer Genetics Program at UT-Southwestern Medical Center. Her new book is called “A Cancer in the Family: Take Control of Your Genetic Inheritance” (Avery).
Medical detectives can help predict your likelihood of cancers. Dr. Theodora Ross joins Good Day from the famed UT Southwestern Simmons Cancer Center to talk about her new book, “A Cancer in the Family.”
Theodora Ross is both a scientist and physician. She directs the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Cancer Genetics Program. Ross recently published her first book, “A Cancer in the Family.”