What is a hereditary cancer?
Hereditary cancers are cancers caused by mutations, or changes, in the DNA. Similar to how eye color is passed from a parent to a child, these mutations can be also. Although only 5-10% of cancers are attributed to heredity, these cancers can develop at an earlier age, often before an individual begins routine screenings and they tend to be more aggressive making them more difficult to treat.
How do I know if I have a genetic mutation?
Based on your personal and/or family history your provider may suspect you have a genetic mutation. If you have a parent, child or sibling with a known mutation, there is a 50% chance you have it also. The only way to know for sure is to be tested for it. We recommend you meet with a Certified Genetic Counselor (CGC) before and after testing, as they can guide you through the testing process.
What is a Certified Genetic Counselor (CGC)?
A CGC is a highly trained professional that can review your medical history with you and discuss the benefits and limitations of genetic testing. They are able to inform you what mutations you will be tested for and what cancers are associated with these mutations. After testing, the CGC can help you interpret your results and if necessary provide referrals for follow-up screening/risk-management, support and research opportunities.
Information on genetic testing:
Genetic testing consists of either a mouthwash, which is done with a kit that is usually mailed back to a testing company, or a blood draw done at a local laboratory. Fortunately, many insurance companies are now fully covering genetic testing and counseling; this may dictate which testing company you are tested through. If your insurance company is not covering the test there are several local and national organizations/companies that will run the tst for very little cost or even for free.
Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancers
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