Cancer is a condition triggered by mutations (changes) in the genes of a cell that result in uncontrolled, abnormal cell growth. Some families have gene mutations that are passed down from one generation to the next.
Genetic testing may help you determine if your cancer was due to an inherited gene mutation and if you are at an increased risk of developing a second cancer.
Hereditary risk assessment
During your initial evaluation period at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), you will fill out a family history questionnaire, which includes questions regarding your personal and family history of cancer. This information will help determine if you are a candidate for genetic testing.
The following are some red flags for a hereditary cancer predisposition:
- Family member with a known inherited gene mutation
- Breast, colon or uterine cancer diagnosed under the age of 50
- Ovarian cancer diagnosed at any age
- Two or more close family members who have had the same type of cancer
- The same type of cancer in several generations of the family
How it works
Genetic testing consists of a mouthwash or blood test. Analysis of the sample can determine if you inherited a gene mutation that contributed to your diagnosis of cancer. Genetic testing might also help determine if you are at greater risk of developing the same cancer again or of developing another type of cancer.
Results of genetic testing
Genetic testing can help you make informed decisions about how to manage future risks of cancer. For example, if it is determined that you are at greater risk than the “average” patient for breast cancer recurrence, we may recommend adding breast MRIs to your routine screenings.
Also, if you are a woman who has breast cancer and you find out that you have an inherited risk, you may be at an increased risk for developing ovarian cancer. We will present you with options to reduce that risk.
The test results can help your CTCA doctor develop a plan of care individualized just for you. Test results can also be of great value to family members. Before and after genetic testing, you may have a genetic counseling session.
Read about genomic tumor assessment at CTCA.