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Are All Types of Cancer Hereditary?

family holding hands on a walk

Many people wonder: “Is cancer a genetic disease?” The answer is that most cancer cases develop by chance, but there are some people who are genetically predisposed to certain types of cancer, which increases their risk of developing it. Inherited genetic mutations occur as a major factor in about five to 10 percent of cancers.

What Cancers Are Genetic?

There are several types of cancer that can be hereditary, including:

  • Breast: Heredity breast cancer often occurs in women of younger ages and may occur in both breasts. It is associated with mutations of the BRCA genes.
  • Prostate: When it comes to prostate cancer being inherited, a man with a close family member such as a father or brother who has prostate cancer is twice as likely to have prostate cancer as well. A man whose brother and father both have prostate cancer is five times more likely to have it.
  • Ovarian: Heredity ovarian cancer also occurs in people of younger ages and is sometimes associated with breast cancer.
  • Colorectal: This type of heredity cancer is also known as Lynch syndrome, and is usually found in those under the age of 50.

Cancer is inherited when there is a hereditary gene mutation present, known as a germline mutation. These mutations are found in nearly every cell in the body and are inherited from one or both parents. Cases in which gene mutations are passed down from generation to generation are referred to as Family Cancer Syndromes.

Tips for Those Who Might Inherit Cancer

If you are concerned that you might inherit a parent’s cancer, you can consider genetic counseling and testing. A genetic counselor will review and discuss your family history of cancer and then help you decide which genetic tests, if any, may be beneficial. This is usually recommended for people who have multiple cases of the same cancer in their family, especially if the cancer occurred in the family member at a young age.

A genetic test is usually performed on a blood or saliva sample, taken by cheek swab. The test will not benefit everyone and is usually reserved for those with a strong indication of Family Cancer Syndrome. You can also receive genetic counseling without having a genetic test performed.

Learn more about whether genetic testing may be right for you .

Contact Gettysburg Cancer Center Today

For more information about cancer treatment or to schedule an appointment, contact Gettysburg Cancer Center today. Our caring and expert staff, as well as our cutting-edge technology, will ensure you get the help you need.

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