For some, cancer is a known threat because they have inherited an increased risk for cancer in their genes—it runs in the family.

About 10% of all cancers are hereditary, and can be traced to an inherited mutation in one of the genes that play a role in protecting the body against cancer. These mutations cannot develop later in life. People who have these gene mutations are born with them and are at greater risk for cancer than the general population. The level of risk and the type of cancer depend on the gene mutation.

LIFETIME CANCER RISK FOR COMMON CANCERS (%)
Lifetime Cancer Risk for Common Cancers *This graph represents the highest risks associated with some genes in Hereditary Cancer.

What Is the Potential Impact of Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk?

YOUR GENETIC TEST RESULTS CAN FOREWARN YOU AND YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ABOUT A HIDDEN CANCER RISK

Being diagnosed with a hereditary condition can be scary. That's why early detection is so important.

Potential Impact of Genetic Testing

Based on your test results, your healthcare provider may:

impact of genetic testing
Adjust your cancer screening plan (such as the type and frequency of screenings, and initiating them at a younger age)
impact of genetic testing
Discuss possible risk-reducing options, such as preventive surgery to reduce the risk for certain cancers.
impact of genetic testing
Potentially discuss other personalized treatment options based on your unique genetic profile, if appropriate.

Potential Impact for Your Family Members

If you test positive for a genetic mutation, there may be up to a 50/50 random chance that your close family members (parents, brothers, sisters and children) will also have the same mutation.

Sharing your genetic test results with family members could change their lives.
Cancer gene pedigree

How Do I Know if I’m a Candidate for Genetic Testing?

IF YOU ANSWER “YES” TO ANY OF THE QUESTIONS BELOW*, YOU MAY WANT TO CONSIDER TALKING TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER ABOUT HEREDITARY CANCER GENETIC TESTING

Have you or your family members been diagnosed with

Cancer at a young age (younger than 50 years old)?

More than one cancer?

Cancers you’ve been told are usually rare, such as ovarian or pancreatic cancer?

Have multiple people on the same side of your family had cancer?

Have any of your family members been found to have a cancer gene mutation?

If your responses indicate that you may be at-risk for hereditary cancer, there’s no need to panic.

Not everyone who has a risk will necessarily go on to develop disease. Genetic test results are a tool to help clarify your cancer risk, and inform your healthcare provider in determining the best plan of action moving forward.

*Your healthcare provider may identify other reasons why it may be beneficial for you to consider genetic testing

genetic testing candidate

Take our hereditary cancer quiz

Take the quiz

What Test Results Can I Expect? And What Do I Do Once I Have Them?

POSITIVE, NEGATIVE OR VARIANT OF UNKNOWN SIGNIFICANCE (VUS)

Results from your genetic tests will fall into one of three categories:

A mutation related to an inherited cancer has been found in at least one of your tested genes

A positive result confirms an increased risk for an inherited cancer, and may be the basis for medical management recommendations specific to the gene that has a mutation

As previously noted, a positive result also indicates there may be up to a 50/50 random chance that each of your children, brothers, sisters, and parents has this same mutation and, like you, are at increased risk to develop the cancer linked to your mutation. Therefore, genetic testing for additional family members may be recommended

No cancer-linked genetic mutations were found in any of your tested genes

Since inherited disease risk(s) and management recommendations are based on personal and family history as well as genetics, you will want to discuss next steps with your healthcare provider

Despite your negative result, genetic testing may be advisable for family members depending on their clinical history

At least one genetic mutation was found, but it is unclear if this change causes an increased risk for an inherited cancer

Management recommendations should be based on personal or family history

These results may change over time as we learn more information, and you could possibly get an updated result in the future