Genetic testing and preventative care change the course of lives

Lab technician doing research in a lab

To learn more about genetic testing for cancer, call LMH Health Cancer Center at 785-505-2800.

Published on January 29, 2021

Genetic testing and preventative care change the course of lives

Courtney Bernard, LMH Health Foundation

Genetic testing and preventative cancer screening at LMH Health changed the course of several lives of one local family.

Last year, Cindy Fritzel visited LMH Health for a routine 3D mammogram and a cancerous tumor was identified.

Because her father was also battling cancer at the time, Fritzel’s oncologist, Dr. Sherri Soule, encouraged her to take part in genetic testing. The results of the test would determine the best treatment for her breast cancer.

The test came back positive for BRCA-2, a gene that increases the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers, as well as recurrence of cancer over a lifetime. The BRCA-2 gene led Fritzel’s LMH Health care team to recommend a double mastectomy, rather than a lumpectomy or radiation treatment.

Knowing the family risk

Fritzel’s positive BRCA-2 result also led her parents, her daughters and her brother to participate in genetic testing. Her father, two daughters and brother were also positive for the gene.

Fritzel’s daughters began their preventative testing, including mammograms, which are recommended for women starting at age 40. But at 34, her daughter Becca discovered she had the same breast cancer as Fritzel. Becca underwent a double mastectomy exactly two months after her mother did.

"The process at LMH Health was convenient and the physicians are an intimate group. That made everything easier."

Cindy Fritzel, LMH Health Cancer Center Patient

“It was the genetic testing that changed everything,” said Fritzel. “It saved lives in my immediate family.”

Fritzel was impressed by how quickly her personal LMH Health care team was assembled. Within six days, Fritzel had met with every provider she needed to complete her treatment, from her oncologist to her breast surgeon.

“Having cancer is such a whirlwind, but my appointments were set up so quickly and I didn’t have to worry where I’d go or what I’d do,” said Fritzel. “The process at LMH Health was convenient and the physicians are an intimate group. That made everything easier.”

A coordinated approach. Close to home

Dr. Soule believes that the coordination of care and “group approach” to oncology is a point of excellence at the LMH Health cancer center. All providers who treat cancer meet weekly to discuss cases and patients and ensure that everyone agrees on the treatment plans.

“This coordinated approach is the absolute best way to minimize invasiveness and number of procedures,” said Soule. “LMH Health offers basically everything related to cancer care, but at a more coordinated, efficient and personal level than other hospitals.”

Fritzel had experienced cancer care at a larger, Kansas City-area hospital while accompanying her father for treatments, but found her own experience at LMH Health to be very personal and comfortable.

“We went to many appointments in Kansas City where there are 50 people in the waiting room,” Fritzel said. “The intimacy at LMH Health was amazing, compared to larger hospitals. It was very comforting to have all these strong, knowledgeable female physicians in my corner. They knew how to be empathetic as well as brilliant.”

NCI-designated Cancer Center

The LMH Health Cancer Center offers multidisciplinary care teams, strong regional partnerships and physicians trained at NCI-designated cancer centers. Cancer patients at LMH Health have access to exceptional clinic trials, genetic research, comprehensive support programs, lifelong survivorship resources and a cancer prevention program.

“We essentially offer everything here that they offer in Kansas City, but with more personalized care,” said Dr. Soule. “We get to know the patients and their families better, and we get things done more efficiently.”

The center’s oncologists and hematologists have extensive experience in treating a wide range of cancer types, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, bladder cancer and kidney cancer, as well as lymphoma, leukemia and other blood diseases.

In 2020, LMH Health received official accreditation from the Commission on Cancer. Only 25 percent of hospitals in the United States have achieved this status, and LMH Health joins just eleven other hospitals in Kansas with the distinguished accreditation.

“The Commission on Cancer accreditation is a testament to the high-quality care that LMH Health offers its cancer patients,” said Soule. “It’s based on the work we’ve been doing here for years.”

LMH Health has the providers, technology and facilities to provide healthcare that’s not only exceptional for a community hospital—it’s among the best anywhere, according to Dr. Soule.

“LMH Health is a regional destination for progressive, integrated hematology and oncology care,” said Soule. “Our team offers a personal touch that makes our center feel like home.”