Theodora Ross is the director of UT Southwestern Medical Center Cancer Genetics Program. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

“We don’t have enough genetic counselors. We don’t have enough doctors who understand genetics. So when people get genetic tests, they think, ‘Oh, it’s done. I’ve done it. I’m fine.’ But it’s not. It’s not a single event.

“I think the cost of the [genetic] test has definitely gotten into a realm of where it can be democratized. But the cost of care is different. You’ve got your genetic test results. How do you act on that? . . . [People] need to have several doctors to guide them through all the steps that they need to take to keep themselves healthy. That’s a harder problem.

“One of the big discoveries in tumor sequencing is that a lot of people with tumors have genetic, or inherited, defects. In fact, that’s one of the biggest discoveries. It’s not anything about the tumor that we’re targeting, and that’s surprising. I think it still goes back to the fundamental of what are you predisposed to and discovering that. Again, we’re missing the genetic counselors and the genetic care. I do worry that we’re going to miss some very important opportunities genetically when we’re just sequencing tumors without having good genetic care.”

Theodora Ross , cancer geneticist and director, UT Southwestern Medical Center Cancer Genetics Program

This excerpt was from the December 6 Washington Post Live program Chasing Cancer. Video of the discussions can be see at