As news about gene-related cancers increases, so has the concern about gene-inherited risk for cancer. Forty percent of Americans will develop cancer in their lifetimes, but only 10% of those carry a cancer gene. For that 10%, however, early detection can significantly decrease the risk for developing cancer. Most importantly, it can increase the chance of identifying cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage.
Are You at Increased Risk for Breast or Ovarian Cancer?
- Do you have a close relative who has tested positive for breast or ovarian cancer genes?
- Have you already had breast or ovarian cancer?
- Are there one or more close relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, especially before age 50, and/or ovarian cancer in two or more generations on the same side of the family?
- Have you had breast cancer before age 50?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of the above questions you may be at increased risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer.
Are You at Increased Risk for Colorectal Cancer?
- Do you have a close relative who has tested positive for the colorectal cancer gene?
- Have you already had colorectal cancer AND have one or more close relatives with colorectal cancer and/or uterine, stomach, or pancreatic cancer or multiple colon polyps?
- Are there one or more close relatives who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in two or more generations on the same side of the family?
- Have you had multiple colon polyps at a young age AND have a family history of colorectal, uterine, stomach, or pancreatic cancer, or have other family members with multiple colon polyps?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of the above questions you may be at increased risk for developing colorectal cancer.
Please remember that a genetic predisposition to cancer does not guarantee a diagnosis of cancer. It means you are at a higher risk for developing cancer and that the risk increases with age.
The Geisinger Difference
Geisinger Cancer Services offers the familial cancer genetics program to help determine cancer risk. The program is led by oncologists and board-certified, master’s-trained genetics counselors.
Started in 1999, the program provides risk assessment, cutting-edge genetic testing, counseling, and intervention for anyone who believes they might be at higher risk. The best candidates for genetic testing are those who have multiple blood relatives with related cancers (the best way to determine if a cancer gene exists in a family is to have the family member with cancer tested) or family members who develop cancer at a young age (generally under age 50). If you meet these criteria or fear cancer and don’t know your family history, you may benefit from the program.
If needed, the familial cancer genetics program can refer you to other Geisinger specialists for counseling and consultation. If the assessment shows a high risk for cancer, Geisinger Cancer Services can create a prevention plan tailored to your unique health and lifestyle needs as well as your genetic risk.