Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. However, according to the World Health Organization, up to 50% of cancers are preventable. In an effort to address this issue and reduce the cancer burden in Wisconsin, the Ascension Wisconsin Cancer Prevention and Wellness Program is designed to identify individuals who may be at a higher risk of developing cancer and create a plan that can lower that risk.
Understanding and managing your risk
Understanding your risk and getting the recommended screenings can help detect cancer early when it’s most treatable. The Ascension Wisconsin Cancer Prevention and Wellness Program specializes in the assessment and care of those individuals who are at increased risk for developing cancer.
Jennifer Minessale is an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner (APNP) with Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin. She focuses on those at risk for developing gastrointestinal cancers at Ascension All Saints Hospital and Ascension SE Wisconsin Hospital – Franklin Campus.
“Our team recommends targeted screenings, genetic risk assessment, surveillance, and follow-up care based on a person’s individual risks,” said Minessale. “We work closely with each person to create a personalized plan and connect them to the care that’s right for them.”
Jennifer Minessale is an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner (APNP) with Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin. She specializes in gastrointestinal cancers and sees patients at Ascension All Saints Hospital Cancer Center, 3809 Spring Street in Racine and Ascension Franklin, 10101 S 27th St., and other Ascension Wisconsin locations. To schedule an appointment, call 262-687-2222.
How do you know if you are at increased risk?
If you identify with any of the following, you may be at a higher risk for some cancers:
- Personal history of cancer
- Close family history of cancer (diagnosed younger than 50)
- Family history of ovarian, pancreatic, metastatic prostate or male breast cancer
- Known genetic mutation (personal or family history)
- Current or former smoker or tobacco user
- Greater than 10 colon polyps throughout life
- History of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, cirrhosis, hepatitis B/C, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Excess alcohol use
- Excess sun or UV exposure
- Lung nodules
- Non-active lifestyle
- Overweight or obese
Personalized risk assessment
If you have any of the risk factors listed above, you may qualify for a high-risk assessment. You may call 262-785-2273 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
- An advanced practice clinician (APC) will meet with you, review your personal and family history, and recommend testing or other care as appropriate.
- Genetic testing may be recommended based on your personal and/or family history.
- A physical exam may also be performed.
- The Ascension Wisconsin Cancer Prevention and Wellness team will coordinate all testing, referrals and follow-up care, as needed.
The Ascension Wisconsin Cancer Prevention and Wellness Program is unique when compared to other high-risk cancer programs. Its multi-disciplinary team takes a comprehensive approach by evaluating known family and personal risk factors, thorough assessments, which include genetic risk as well as empiric risk assessment, developing an individualized cancer surveillance plan and counseling, regarding lifestyle risk modification.
“These are all pieces of a larger puzzle,” said Rhodora Khan.
Khan, an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner (APNP) with Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin, specializes in individuals at risk for developing breast cancer at the Ascension All Saints and Ascension Franklin locations.
“Putting all of these pieces together gives us a clearer picture, a better understanding of a patient’s probability of developing certain types of cancer, and the best way we can try to prevent it.”
Through this program, targeted screenings, lifestyle modifications, and ongoing follow-up care, the care team provides a personalized wellness plan, including strategies to reduce the risk of developing cancer and improve overall health.
Rhodora Khan is an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner (APNP) with Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin. She specializes in breast cancer and sees patients at Ascension All Saints Hospital, 3811 Spring Street in Racine, and at Ascension Franklin, 10101 S 27th St. To schedule an appointment, call 414-325-7365.
Personalized wellness plan
A personal wellness plan may include:
- A weight management plan which includes personalized nutrition and physical activity recommendations
- Smoking/tobacco cessation plans, including medications and behavior modification
- Alcohol and drug addiction counseling referrals
- Health coaching and goal setting
- Specialty referrals
- Preventive medications, if appropriate
- Enhanced screening and testing to find cancer at its earliest stages
- Plan for follow-up care and communication with your primary care provider
- Potential clinical trials that are available
“Once we know if a person is carrying a hereditary cancer gene mutation, we can provide guidelines-based surveillance and risk-reducing options for their particular cancer risks. They may also be potential candidates for clinical trials and research studies,” Khan said.
One of the most important aspects of cancer prevention and wellness is continuous education for the community. Ascension Wisconsin Cancer Prevention and Wellness team members provide community outreach and wellness education at local health fairs, community group gatherings, and colleges to spread awareness about cancer prevention. The team is committed to addressing health inequities in underserved communities.
“It’s important to reach everyone, no matter where they live or what they look like,” said Khan. “Everyone deserves to know their risk of cancer and the tools available to them to prevent it.”
Likewise, reducing this risk on a community level is an equally-important strategy, according to Minessale.
“Reducing the burden of cancer in our community is our number one goal,” Minessale said. “If we can prevent cancer from developing, that can be life-saving.”
To learn more about the Ascension Wisconsin Cancer Prevention and Wellness Program, have your questions answered, or schedule an appointment, please call 262-785-2273. To learn more about Ascension Wiscionsin’s cancer programs and find a specialist please visit ascension.org/wisconsincancercare.
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