Most cancers are not passed down from parent to child. However there are some cancers that do have a genetic component. These can be called hereditary cancers.
- There are some cancers that are genetic (can be passed on from your parents).
- There are a number of different cancers that are hereditary.
- There is screening and testing you can do to identify if you may be suscpetible to a genetic cancer.
That is they are caused by a faulty gene that may have been inherited from your parents. Only 5-10% of cancers seem to be the result of having a faulty gene and these tend to be the cancers that affect older people.
What is it?
- A hereditary cancer is a cancer that can be passed on within a family. Unlike most cancers it is the result of an abnormal alteration in a single gene.
- A family may have a hereditary cancer if more than several people in the family have cancer and in more than one generation.
- There are many different types of hereditary cancer syndromes. The names of the various syndromes do not reflect all of the cancer types that a particular syndrome can make you susceptible to.
- By knowing the different cancers that are associated with a particular cancer syndrome, family members are able to start screening themselves earlier and more frequently.
Types of Hereditary Cancer Syndromes
- Breast-ovarian cancer syndrome 1 (BRAC1)
- Breast-ovarian cancer syndrome 2 (BRAC2)
- Familial adenomatous polyposis
- Familial melanoma
- Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN2A)
- Von Hippel Lindau (VHL) syndrome
To see if a person has a specific cancer syndrome, a predictive genetic test is carried out. This is usually done by taking a sample of blood or tissue. These tests do not tell the doctors whether or not someone has cancer but if they carry the gene alteration which can make them more susceptible to specific cancers because of their genetic makeup.
If you are diagnosed with a cancer syndrome, depending on what type will depend on what screening procedures will be recommended to you. Some of these could include:
- Skin examination by a dermatologist
- Physical examination
- PET scan
- Pap Test
- Annual evaluations of the eyes, kidneys, brain and spinal cord