The Hereditary Cancer Program is a referral/consultation service that evaluates families with multiple members with cancer, to assess the likelihood for hereditary cancer. Genetic testing is considered based both the personal and family history of cancer. A detailed family history (when possible) reviews of the types of cancer in the family and the ages at diagnosis.
For a growing number of cancers, genetic (DNA) testing can be arranged to determine an individual’s cancer risk more precisely. Test results and the family history can help determine more personalized screening and management options.
It is not always obvious which families are appropriate for an evaluation for hereditary cancer risk. In general, an evaluation should be made when there have been two or more close relatives affected with cancer and one or more of the following:
- cancer(s) developed at an earlier age than usual (generally before age 50);
- affected person may have more than one primary cancer;
- physical signs may be associated with inherited cancers (for example, multiple polyps and colon cancer);
- different cancers in the family are known to be genetically related (for example, breast and ovarian cancers); and
- single gene pattern of inheritance of cancers in a family.
Many concerning personal and family histories do not meet these criteria. We are available to evaluate individuals and families for many reasons that are not listed here.