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Testing for cancer Genetic

A predisposition to certain cancers can be inherited via altered genes. Genetic testing aims to detect a genetic alteration that might increase the chances of a person developing a particular cancer.

This testing is recommended for families with a high risk of a genetic predisposition to certain cancers.

  • Cancer in both breasts
  • Onset of breast cancer before the
  • Onset of ovarian cancer before the age of 50
  • Breast and ovarian cancer in the same relative
  • Breast cancer in a male relative

A relative diagnosed with breast cancer at or before 45 years of age plus a relative diagnosed with bone or soft tissue cancer at or before 45 years of age.

Bowel cancers

  • Families who may be at potentially high risk of bowel cancer include those with three or more relatives on the same side of the family with bowel cancer.
  • Families with two or more relatives with bowel cancer are also considered to have an increased risk if there is:
  • More than one bowel cancer in the same relative
  • Onset of bowel cancer before the age of 50
  • A relative with endometrial or ovarian cancer

A relative with bowel cancer and with a large number of benign (not cancerous) tumors, called adenomas, throughout the bowel.

Other types of cancers

For other types of cancers, people are considered to be at increased risk if they have:

  • Several relatives who have the same type of cancer
  • A relative who has been found to carry a particular altered gene.

Genetic testing

Genetic testing is available to a small number of families. These families are likely to have an inherited predisposition to cancer.

Generally, it is necessary to test a person who has had cancer first to identify the genetic change causing cancer in the family. If a genetic change is found, it confirms that the cancers in that family are due to an inherited predisposition to cancer.

Blood relatives who have no signs of cancer can then choose to have testing to find out if they have inherited the altered genes that may make it more likely for them to get cancer. If they have inherited a predisposition to cancer, we will develop a personal program designed to detect any cancers at their earliest stages.

If a genetic change is not found in a person affected by cancer, it remains possible that there is still a genetic predisposition to cancer in the family. Unfortunately not all genetic changes can be detected. We would advise family members about the chance of developing cancer and what they can do to reduce the risk.

See your doctor first

If you believe you are at risk of familial cancer, see your doctor. If you or your doctor believes there may be some concern, make an appointment with us.

Things to remember

A predisposition to certain cancers can be inherited via altered genes.

Genes are only shared by blood relatives, so you can't be at risk of familial cancer from your adoptive parents or in-laws.

If you believe you are at risk of familial cancer, see your doctor for further information and advice.


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Our job at Patients Medical is to listen, to connect the dots between a patient's medical history, symptoms, and their underlying causes. Patients Medical is a superb place for women and men to secure integrative and holistic health care from providers who give personalized care, partner with the patient to focus on the root cause of their illness, support their recovery, and help them maintain good health.

To make an appointment with one of our physicians, please call us at 1-212-794-8800. We look forward to hearing from you.

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