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Genetic Testing for Hereditary Cancer 

By January 18, 2013 - 7:08am
Sponsored By Myriad

Your family’s medical history is important. It helps to connect past, present and future generations with common traits and bonds. Your family history can also play an important role in your health.

Did you know having one or more family members with certain types of cancer means you may have an inherited risk for the same cancer?

Your family medical history is an important tool to help identify whether or not you have a higher than usual chance of being diagnosed with an illness in the future.

Cancer is a disease of abnormal gene function, which is caused by gene mutations. In some families, these gene mutations are passed from parent to child for many generations.

When someone has inherited an abnormal copy of a gene, at birth his or her cells already start out with one mutation in that respective gene. This genetic information is in every cell of the body making the cells more susceptible to additional mutations that occur over time. That’s why cancers caused by inherited syndromes tend to occur earlier in life than cancers of the same type that are not inherited.

In fact, certain inherited syndromes lead to nearly a 100 percent chance of getting some cancers.

Fortunately, knowing your family medical history allows you and your health care provider to take action and significantly reduce your risk. Myriad’s genetic tests can identify if you have the genetic variations that can cause certain inherited cancers.

Once a mutation has been found in a family member, close relatives (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc) also have a 50 percent chance of having that mutation. DNA testing is a well-established testing process. Relatives either do or do not have the mutation that runs in the family.

To help assess whether or not you might be a candidate for genetic testing, take the Hereditary Cancer Quiz.  The quick and easy quiz can arm you with information to discuss your cancer risk with a health care provider and ask for further evaluation if needed.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.