About Cancer Genetics and Risk Assessment Certification Program

The Cancer Genetics and Risk Assessment Certification Program is a voluntary certification program developed by a peer review team of the National Consortium of Breast Centers (NCBC) to acknowledge the healthcare professional with clinical experience and advanced knowledge in cancer genetics and cancer risk assessment within the scope of professional licensure and practice. The emphasis of this program is related to breast cancer risk assessment although a broader knowledge of cancer predisposition genes associated with cancer risk is expected of the candidate. The program is designed to acknowledge competencies in healthcare providers other than genetic counselors such as nurses, physicians and physician assistants.

Purpose of Certification:
The CGRA program identifies the purpose of certification as a means to: [1] provide assurance that the healthcare professional possesses the knowledge, skills and competency to provide cancer risk assessment and genetics services to patients and families; [2] promote patient safety by enhancing provider quality; [3] recognize professionals who advance beyond basic knowledge in a specialty field [4] promote collaborative practice and referral to genetics professionals or other qualified healthcare professionals to assure the best possible outcome and care for patients and their families.

Mission of NCBC:

Integrating cancer genetics, genomics and cancer risk assessment has become increasingly relevant to the practice of oncology as we move to more personalized approaches to cancer screening, cancer prevention and targeted therapy.  The scope of knowledge, clinical tools and expertise required for translation of complex genetic and genomic test information into clinical practice requires acquisition of professional education, clinical experience and ability to access evidence-based information in this rapidly evolving field.

NCBC’s Certification Program in Cancer Genetics and Risk Assessment has been developed to provide the assurance that the certified individual possesses the knowledge, skills and competency to provide cancer risk assessment services to patients and families. Preferred candidates are physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses or other skilled practitioners seeking to demonstrate advanced knowledge of cancer genetics, cancer risk assessment with an emphasis on comprehensive breast cancer risk assessment within their respective scope of practice. The professional with Certification in CGRA should be recognized by insurance companies as possessing the education, skills and practice support in the subspecialty practice of cancer genetics risk assessment.

This certification is not a requirement for the skilled professional providing this service but serves as recognition for the provider, serves to enhance provider quality and serves to facilitate access to cancer risk and genetics assessment services by quality providers within their scope of licensure and practice.  Evidence suggests that there is greater adherence to evidence-based guidelines for care, more detailed education about the meaning and interpretation of cancer genetics results, coordinated care for other family members at risk and cost saving from appropriate ordering of testing when provided by professionals whom hold a specialty certification.

NCBC believes there are many qualified professionals practicing in cancer risk and genetics assessment who obtained their skills outside of the eligibility requirements for the CRGC exam.  Therefore, employers and insurance companies should not require this certification for employment or reimbursement.

NCBC’s certification is also not a path to and does not indicate eligibility for certification as a genetic counselor.

Vision:
The vision of NCBC’s Certification Program in Cancer Genetics Risk Assessment is to provide recognition of the professional who is trained and experienced in cancer risk assessment and management, including the integration of molecular analysis of cancer predisposition genes into the practice of oncology and preventive medicine.  Although the emphasis of this program is on breast cancer risk assessment, the health care professional providing Cancer Genetics & Risk Assessment services must have a broader knowledge of cancer predisposition genes given the growing use of multiple-gene panels and recognition that there are multiple mutations that can cause multiple cancers across multiple disciplines.  The vision of this program is to assure the candidate is able recognize patients at risk for cancer, perform a comprehensive breast cancer risk assessment based on personal risk factors and detailed family history, order appropriate genetic testing if in scope of practice, adequately interpret results and explain results to patients and their families. Given the importance of cascade testing and the possibility of identifying rare, unfamiliar genes or complex results, a competency of the professional achieving certification is to recognize when a condition merits collaboration or referral to genetics professional or other qualified healthcare professional.