FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  Connecticut Department of Public Health

June 15, 2011                                                  Contact:  William Gerrish

                                                                        (860) 509-7270


Hartford – The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced it received a $26,000 federal grant to educate health care providers on hereditary cancers. 


Only 20 states were selected for the one-year grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 Action Project. The grant targets cancers for which there are national recommendations for genetic counseling and testing, including hereditary breast and ovarian cancers and Lynch syndrome, a genetic condition that predisposes people to early onset (before age 50) colorectal cancer and other cancers of the digestive tract.


“Public health experts estimate that 5 to 10% of cancers are inherited, and this number may exceed 30% for some cancers in certain population groups,” stated DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen.  “The benefits of genetic counseling and testing for individuals with personal or family histories of cancer are well known, but according to recent studies, many doctors do not know when to refer patients for these services.”


Clinicians at 31 acute care hospitals in the state will receive reports on the number of these cancers diagnosed at their facilities, along with educational materials about hereditary cancer and copies of evidence-based best practices for genetic counseling and testing. The literature packet and recommendations will also be sent to about 1,000 Connecticut physicians and surgeons whose practice specialties make them the most likely to diagnose cancer or identify people whose family histories put them at risk for cancer.


The grant also provides each hospital with a training session by a Certified Genetic Counselor on prevention and early detection of cancer as well as the appropriate use of genetic counseling services and tests.


Healthy People 2020 is a federal initiative which, since 1979, has provided science-based, 10-year national objectives for promoting health and preventing disease. In partnership with states, communities, and public and private sector organizations, it has set goals to improve the health of all Americans.


The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state.  To contact the department, please visit its website at  or call (860) 509-7270.