Our understanding of the genetic impact on cancer risk continues to evolve rapidly, and scientific advances in the field have led to significant changes in genetic screening for cancer risk in terms of what we test for, whom we test and how we test.
All families have their traditions. In ours, we tend to have big families, with numerous siblings – and a lot of cancer. My father was diagnosed with cancer when he was 44 years old.
By studying similarities in high-risk individuals and tracing connections between their blood relatives, researchers are helping solve the mysteries of a disease that is usually diagnosed in the late stages, when it is harder to treat.
Because BRCA mutations are strongly linked to breast and ovarian cancer, they have been studied more widely in women than in men — and women are more likely than men to be referred by their doctors for genetic testing. But BRCA mutations are associated with many types of cancer, and men are also at risk.
A genetic consultation is often recommended for people who are concerned about their risk for cancer due to a personal or family history of cancer.
While an estimated 5 to 10 percent of all cancers are due to hereditary factors, ovarian cancer is unique—up to 25 percent of these cancers are thought to have a hereditary cause.
A cancer diagnosis isn’t a reason to stop being vigilant when it comes to prevention. In fact, cancer patients have even more reason to be on guard, because they usually have a higher risk for infection or for developing other types of cancer.
Understanding the genetic mutations that cause cancer tumors is one of the most complicated, but promising, aspects of cancer research.
In Roswell Park’s Genetics Services Center we meet with people who have personal and family histories of cancer.