In some families, there’s an abnormal gene that gets passed from one generation to the next and that causes cancer. A person who inherits this gene isn’t necessarily guaranteed to develop cancer in their lifetime, but they do have an increased risk compared to someone who didn’t inherit the gene. In fact, researchers estimate that about 5 – 10% of all cancers are caused by inherited genetic mutations.
If you think cancer might run in your family, consult with the genetic experts at Regional Cancer Care Associates to learn more.
Types of Hereditary Cancers
So far, researchers have confirmed a genetic connection for several types of cancer. The most common types of hereditary cancer include:
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian/fallopian tube cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Colon cancer
- Gastric cancer
Remember, these cancers are often associated with many different risk factors. Even if someone or multiple people in the family have one of these cancers, it’s not necessarily caused by genetics. Genetic testing can help determine whether or not a cancer was inherited.
Warning Signs of Hereditary Cancer
In addition to genetic testing, there are some warning signs of hereditary cancer you can look for. If you recognize any of the following features in your own family, there could be a chance of abnormal cancer-causing genes somewhere in your medical history.
- Many people are diagnosed at a younger-than-average age
- Many people in the family have the same type of cancer
- Many people have an uncommon or rare type of cancer
- Cancer occurs in both of a pair of organs (ex. both eyes)
- More than one sibling is diagnosed with a childhood cancer
- Tumors have a rare histology
- Tumors are associated with another rare disease or lesion
When examining your family’s medical history with cancer, look at your mother’s side of the family and your father’s side of the family separately. Find out who was diagnosed with cancer and how they’re related to each other and to you. If you’re concerned about cancer genetics, share your findings with your doctor.
RCCA Offers Genetic Testing
In some cases, genetic testing can help people better understand their diagnosis and their family history. It can also help doctors develop a more effective treatment plan. For more information about cancer genetics, call 844-346-7222 to schedule an appointment, or contact your local RCCA office directly.