Approximately 5% to 10% of all cancers develop because a person inherited a genetic mutation in a way that encourages the disease to grow. Individuals with these genetic mutations are far more likely to develop certain cancers, often at a much earlier age than the general population.
Medical management of people with a higher cancer risk (ie, hereditary risk) can be very different from that for people with a lower cancer risk (ie, general population risk).
You and your healthcare provider can determine your cancer risk and course of management by understanding your family history and pursuing hereditary cancer testing when appropriate.
Hereditary cancer occurs when a gene that normally helps to prevent cancer is altered (or mutated). People with hereditary cancers are more likely to have relatives with the same type or a related type of cancer. In addition, they often develop cancer at an earlier than average age, and may also develop more than one cancer in their lifetime. To find out more about inherited cancers click here.
Familial cancer is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors. While people with this type of cancer may have several relatives with the same type of cancer, there is not a clear pattern of inheritance. To find out more about inherited cancers click here.
Sporadic cancer is the type that occurs by chance, and is the most common. People who develop sporadic cancer usually do not have family members who have had the same type of cancer. To find out more about inherited cancers click here.
Regardless of the results, you and your healthcare provider will benefit from the knowledge and insight the test provides. Knowing whether you are positive (you have a broken gene) or negative (you do not) enables you and your healthcare provider to create a personal health management plan. Learn more about Positive and Negative Results here.
"I canâ€™t tell you how much hereditary cancer testing has profoundly changed my life. Knowing I have this syndrome and that thereâ€™s actually something I can do about it. Iâ€™ve seen so many people affected by cancer...I feel very fortunate." ~ Selena
Watch her and other patient stories here.
Get answers to questions about hereditary cancer testing process and syndromes here.