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Sometimes, certain types of cancers seem to run in some families. This can be caused by a number of factors. Often, family members have certain risk factors in common, such as smoking, which can cause many types of cancer. But in some cases the cancer is caused by an abnormal gene that is being passed along from generation to generation. Although this is often referred to as inherited cancer, what is inherited is the abnormal gene that can lead to cancer, not the cancer itself. Only about 5% to 10% of all cancers are inherited.
Research is only beginning to unravel the genetic links to many health conditions. As knowledge increases, it is likely that the list of cancers believed to have a hereditary component will grow. For now, hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and two types of colon cancer are known to stem from identifiable genetic mutations. Other hereditary cancer syndromes are believed to exist, often characterized by rare cancer combinations in a single patient or a family. If there is a strong history of cancer in your family, it could be valuable to meet with a genetic counselor to find out whether testing or further monitoring is appropriate.
Some risk factors include:
The Karvoski Genetics Program at the Saint Francis/Mount Sinai Regional Cancer Center offers genetic counseling and testing to patients believed to have a genetic cancer syndrome.
Hereditary cancer cannot always be prevented, but with careful monitoring, it may be possible to take precautions or have extra screening that might catch hereditary cancers early, when they are more treatable. Our experienced genetic counselors will discuss your personal and family history to help determine if genetic testing is right for you. The genetic counselor can also give you options for prevention strategies and monitoring your health and will encourage you to discuss these options with your physician.
Our genetic counselor will:
Genes contain the information to build and maintain our bodies and pass traits to our children.
Sometimes there can be a change called a mutation in a gene so that it no longer works properly. Changes in the function of certain genes can lead to cancer.Genetic testing looks for mutations in certain genes known to cause an increased risk for cancer. Typically a blood test is used to look for genetic mutations. Results are usually available about two weeks after the blood is drawn.Your genetic counselor will discuss the results with you, and will also discuss the impact of these results on you and your family.
The cost of genetic testing can range from less than $100 to more than $2,000, depending on the nature and complexity of the test. The cost increases if more than one test is necessary or if multiple family members must be tested to obtain a meaningful result. Many insurance companies cover genetic counseling and coverage for the testing is generally based on a patient’s personal and family history.
For more information about cancer genetic counseling, contact the Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at SaintFrancis/Mount Sinai Regional Cancer Center. (860) 714-6483
Sources: Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center; American Cancer Society; National Institutes of Health
Saint Francis/Mount Sinai Regional Cancer CenterTo make an appointmentMedical Oncology: 860 714-4680Radiation Oncology: 860 714-4568
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