When cancer affects one or more members of your family, it’s only natural to ask the question, ‘is cancer hereditary? Although the answer to this question is quite complicated, cancer is hereditary in a small percentage of cases.
The chance of developing non-hereditary cancers and hereditary cancers increases as we get older. This is due to the fact our genes have more time to accumulate errors. Our aging population is one reason that the number of cancer diagnoses is increasing throughout the world. As we get older, the biochemical processes that work to control genes change.
This post will answer the questions, ‘What cancers are hereditary?’ and ‘Are tumors hereditary?’. We’ll also discuss the reasons cancer can be hereditary, what causes hereditary tumors, and what can lead to the inheritance of cancer.
What is Hereditary Cancer?
Cancer is a disease that is caused when cells start to divide uncontrollably and spread throughout the body. The leading cause of cancer is DNA changes, with the majority of cancer-causing changes happening in sections of our DNA called genes. The changes can be referred to as genetic changes.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the hereditary cancer definition is: ‘A type of inherited disorder which poses a higher-than-normal risk of certain cancer’s developing. Such disorders are caused by mutations in certain genes that are passed down from parents to their children.”
Hereditary cancers occur when genetic mutations that increase cancer risk are inherited by a child from their parent. If you’re born with these gene mutations, you carry an increased risk of developing specific types of cancer. Additionally, you may develop these cancers at younger than average ages.
How Cancer Risks are Inherited
Because hereditary mutations exist inside the DNA of egg cells and sperm, our children can inherit them. People that carry these genetic mutations won’t necessarily develop cancer. However, their chances of developing the condition at some point in their lives are higher than average.
What features can increase the risk of hereditary tumors?
- The development of a rare form of cancer (e.g., male breast cancer)
- Certain ethnic backgrounds (e.g., Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry)
- Someone diagnosed with multiple types of cancer (e.g., breast and ovarian cancer)
- Cancer diagnoses in multiple family members across several generations
- Certain tumor study results
Between 3 and 10 in every 100 cancers can be attributed to hereditary faulty genes. Cancers caused by inherited defective genes are significantly less common than those caused by other factors such as smoking, obesity, aging, lack of exercise, and unhealthy diet.
Inherited Cancers Testing
When exploring the question, ‘is cancer hereditary?’, scientists have found several mutations that can contribute to a person’s risk of developing some cancers. These cancers include ovarian, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer, among other less common cancer types. Luckily, genetic testing is now available to check for some hereditary cancers.
Medical tests can search for and identify many inherited gene mutations. This specific type of testing is known as predictive genetic testing or genetic cancer testing. This type of testing is recommended when certain cancer types run in the family and a gene mutation is suspected.
You may opt for genetic cancer testing if:
- You have several first-degree relatives (father, mother, brothers, sisters, children) with cancer.
- Several cancers in your immediate family have been linked to single-gene mutations.
- You have family members with more than one type of cancer.
- Close relatives have developed cancers linked to hereditary cancer syndromes.
- A family member has a rare type of cancer, such as retinoblastoma or breast cancer in a man.
- One or more members of your family have undergone genetic testing and found a mutation.
Consider Genetic Counseling
Genetic counseling is recommended for families or individuals with several cases of cancer diagnosed at unusually young ages. It’s a process that involves discussing your personal or family history of cancer, followed by recommendations for genetic testing that may help prevent cancer development.
Genetic testing typically involves a simple blood test and has the potential to deliver a precise estimate of your cancer risk. Although genetic testing is not required as part of a cancer risk assessment, it can be a vital asset in preventing cancer development. It can also help your physician make important decisions about your medical care.
TruGenX Provide Genetic Cancer Testing
Your entire family may share the risk of being born with a mutation that could lead to cancer in later life. Hereditary cancers are caused by genetic mutations passed down from parents to children. Hereditary cancer screening can help patients to quantify their risks and set up preventative treatment plans.
Order your hereditary cancer test kit today. We can also help you pharmacogenetic testing as well as UTI testing. Our CDC CLIA certified and CAP accredited molecular laboratory deliver accurate and reliable results you can trust.