Her Healthcare: Offering Comprehensive Care with Hereditary Cancer Testing

Dr. Noel Boyd is an OB/GYN who has been in private practice in a suburb of Houston, TX, for 21 years. The patients seen in her practice, Her Healthcare, range in age from 9 to 99, and she cares for them through everything from routine exams to high-risk pregnancy, from contraception counseling to cancer screening.  “I really love taking care of women and their families... I also like taking care of the whole patient, head to toe, but especially the head and the heart,” Dr. Boyd told us on a recent visit to her clinic. 

As part of the comprehensive care she provides, Dr. Boyd has been offering hereditary cancer testing to patients with suspicious personal and/or family histories of cancer for more than 10 years. She explained that when genetic testing identifies a mutation that predisposes someone to cancer, screening and risk reduction options can be explored. She shared the following examples. To address a patient’s increased risk of breast cancer, a health care provider like Dr. Boyd may recommend increased breast screening, such as addition of MRI, with the aim of detecting breast cancer sooner. If the risk is high enough, patients may also have the option of risk-reducing mastectomy. For increased risk of colorectal cancer, a health care provider may recommend the patient have earlier and more frequent colonoscopies, with the goal of removing polyps before they become cancerous.  

However, she stressed that one of the biggest misconceptions she addresses is that genetic testing doesn’t just lead to bad news. “They can either be relieved that they test negative, or they can be relieved that they have an answer and can move forward with earlier intervention... When patients are given hope in a situation...that makes a huge difference.” To learn more about Dr. Boyd’s experience offering hereditary cancer testing, watch the video below.

Dr. Boyd - Hereditary Cancer Testing from AmbryGen on Vimeo.


We also had the opportunity to speak with one of Dr. Boyd’s patients, Kristi. Kristi is a mom of two adult daughters and has lived in Texas for more than two decades.  Kristi’s brother was diagnosed with kidney cancer in his fifties, and it worried her. “I wanted to see if there was any risk to myself, and I wanted to prepare myself just in case,” Kristi explained. Kristi talked to Dr. Boyd about her family history and decided to have hereditary cancer testing.  Genetic testing identified a BRIP1 mutation, which is mainly linked with increased ovarian cancer risk1.  

Kristi was surprised by this result because she did not have a family history of ovarian cancer. Dr. Boyd recommended surgery that included removal of her ovaries. Kristi shared that, “Knowing that ovarian cancer is one of the silent cancers, you don’t necessarily know until it’s too late... So getting the information ahead of time to be able to make that choice of removing my ovaries versus waiting it out, for me, it was a win-win situation.”  She also explained that she was glad to have this information for her daughters who plan to undergo genetic testing in the near future. She summarized her experience by saying that when it comes to your health, “it’s empowering to have the choice, and to make your own decisions.”  You can watch more of Kristi’s story below.


The Patient Experience - Kristi from AmbryGen on Vimeo.






1.    Weber-Lassalle, N., Hauke, J., Ramser, J., Richters, L., Groß, E., Blümcke, B., Gehrig, A., Kahlert, A. K., Müller, C. R., Hackmann, K., Honisch, E., Weber-Lassalle, K., Niederacher, D., Borde, J., Thiele, H., Ernst, C., Altmüller, J., Neidhardt, G., Nürnberg, P., Klaschik, K., … Hahnen, E. (2018). BRIP1 loss-of-function mutations confer high risk for familial ovarian cancer, but not familial breast cancer. Breast cancer research: BCR, 20(1), 7. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13058-018-0935-9

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