What Are The Signs That I May Have An Inherited Cancer Syndrome
Many times, the first tool in detecting an inherited cancer syndrome is a family history of cancer. Knowing your family history helps your doctor begin to think about whether inherited cancer syndromes may be a possibility. If you have a family member who has already been diagnosed with an inherited cancer syndrome, they may know the specific genetic change that your doctor should consider. The ethnic origin of your ancestors may also play a role in determining which cancers youre more likely to inherit.
Some cancers look a specific way under the microscope as a result of a genetic mutation. If you have cancer, the pathologist analyzing your tissue sample would alert your doctor to the possibility that it may have been inherited. For example, a particular type of thyroid cancer is strongly associated with familial adenomatous polyposis . This genetic condition also significantly increases the risk of cancer in the colon, small intestine, and stomach. Knowing about FAP means that entire families can join screening programs for early detection.
Having Dense Breast Tissue
Breasts are made up of fatty tissue, fibrous tissue, and glandular tissue. Breasts appear denser on a mammogram when they have more glandular and fibrous tissue and less fatty tissue. Women with dense breasts on mammogram have a higher risk of breast cancer than women with average breast density. Unfortunately, dense breast tissue can also make it harder to see cancers on mammograms.
A number of factors can affect breast density, such as age, menopausal status, the use of certain drugs , pregnancy, and genetics.
To learn more, see our information on breast density and mammograms.
Fathers ‘pass On’ Breast Cancer Gene
Women can be at serious risk of breast cancer if they inherit faulty genes from their father, scientists have revealed.
A major new study which revised risk estimates for inherited breast cancer showed that fathers as well as mothers are likely to pass defective BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes on to their daughters.
Researchers who investigated more than 1,000 breast cancer patients and their families found that women with BRCA mutations had an 82 per cent lifetime risk of developing the disease.
Previous estimates had varied between 25 and 80 per cent for women from families with many cases of breast cancer.
But in the new study, half the 104 women found to have the gene mutations did not have a history of breast cancer in their immediate family.
In nearly all these 52 cases the cancer-triggering defect had come from the father.
Chief researcher Professor Mary-Claire King, said: “Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 are inherited from fathers as often as from mothers, although fathers are rarely affected with breast cancer.
“So if a family is small, there may be no warning that a mutation is present.”
All the patients tested by the New York Breast Cancer Study Group were Ashkenazi jews – a lineage originating in Germany and eastern Europe.
They were chosen because their genetic make-up facilitates looking for BRCA mutations.
But the researchers say the results should apply to all women who inherit the same faulty DNA.
Read Also: Estrogen Positive Breast Cancer Survival
Using Your Family History
You should certainly share your family history with your medical team. Your healthcare providers might advise genetic counseling or genetic testing if your family history suggests that you could be carrying a breast cancer gene.
Some red flags include:
- Cancer of any kind before the age of 50
- More than one relative with the same type of cancer
- One family member who has more than one type of cancer
- A family member who has cancer not typical for that gender, such as breast cancer in a male
- Certain combinations of cancer, such as the combination of breast cancer with ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, or melanoma
- Cancer in both of one organ, for example, bilateral breast or ovarian cancer
Waiting For An Assessment
Being referred to a family history clinic for assessment can be a worrying time.
Its natural to feel anxious when youre waiting for a risk assessment.
Youll probably have your own way of managing your anxiety during this time of uncertainty, such as keeping busy or talking to family and friends.
If you would like to talk to someone about any concerns, you can call our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.
Also Check: Stage 3 And 4 Cancer
Breast Cancer Risk Factors You Cannot Change
A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease, such as breast cancer. But having a risk factor, or even many, does not mean that you are sure to get the disease.
Some risk factors for breast cancer are things you cannot change, such as getting older or inheriting certain gene changes. These make your risk of breast cancer higher.
For information on other known and possible breast cancer risk factors, see:
People With Limited Information On Family Medical History
You may not know your family medical history.
Risk assessment tools such as the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool can estimate your breast cancer risk without this information. However, it will be less accurate without your family history details.
Talking with your health care provider about other risk factors for breast cancer can help you learn about your risk even if you dont have information on your family medical history.
Don’t Miss: Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Stage 1
What Are The Screening Options For Hboc
Screening is the use of different tests to find specific types of cancer before signs and symptoms appear. It is important to talk with your health care team about the following screening options, as each person is different:
Screening for women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
Monthly breast self-examinations, beginning at age 18
Clinical breast examinations performed twice a year by a health care team or nurse, beginning at age 25
Yearly magnetic resonance imaging scans of both breasts, between ages 25 and 29.
Yearly mammogram and breast MRI, between ages 30 and 75.
Pelvic examination, trans-vaginal ultrasound, and CA-125 blood test every 6 months, beginning at age 30 to 35. It should be noted, however, that screening is not yet able to find most early ovarian cancers.
Consideration of prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy, between ages 35 and 40, and once a woman is done giving birth to children
Screening for men with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
Screening options may change over time as new methods are developed and more is learned about HBOC. Talk with your health care team about appropriate screening tests for you.
Learn more about what to expect when having common tests, procedures, and scans.
Breast Cancer Screening For Women With A Strong Family History Of Breast Or Ovarian Cancer
There are special breast cancer screening guidelines for women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
If you have a greater than 20 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer based mainly on your family history of breast or ovarian cancer, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends you get a :
- Clinical breast exam every 6-12 months, but not before age 21
- Mammogram every year, starting 10 years younger than the youngest breast cancer case in your family, but not before age 30
- Breast MRI every year, starting 10 years younger than the youngest breast cancer case in your family, but not before age 25
Learn more about breast cancer screening recommendations for men at higher risk.
Recommended Reading: Neoplasm Of Breast Symptoms
Brca Mutations Can Be A Family Matter
Everyone carries 2 copies of BRCA genes inherited from his or her mother and father. If 1 parent has a BRCA mutation, all of his or her children have a 50% chance of inheriting that mutation. Even if a child inherits only 1 mutated BRCA gene, that persons risk of developing cancer increases.
If you have an inherited BRCA mutation
- Your children have a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation
- Your siblings have a 50% chance of having the mutation
- Theres a 100% chance that one of your parents has the mutation
Its important to know if your family is at riskit could be life-changing.
Read Also: What Is Stage 3a Breast Cancer
Nccn Recommendations For Breast Cancer Risk Management: Moderate
NCCN recently published recommendationsfor moderate-risk genes . Annual breast MRI as part of routinebreast cancer screening is recommended for individuals with a mutation in ATM, CHEK2, and PALB2 genes due to the > 20 percent lifetime risk of breastcancer. Age to begin screening is not specified and may be based on personalrisk factors and family history. For example, breast cancer screening in thegeneral population is recommended 10 years prior to the youngest age ofdiagnosis in the family or at age 40. Women at an increased risk should discussthis information with their physicians to establish an appropriate screeningroutine.
Recommended Reading: Estrogen Positive Her2 Negative Breast Cancer
Other Cancer Risks For People With Hboc
Anyone with mutations in the BRCA2 gene may be at an increased risk of other types of cancer, including melanoma and pancreatic, stomach, esophageal, and bile duct cancers.Mutations in other genes may be associated with an increased risk of developing breast and other cancers, including the Li-Fraumeni syndrome , Cowden syndrome, and others. The pattern of cancers in the family is often a clue to the specific gene that may explain the hereditary cancer for that family. Multigene panels are available for people with a strong personal and family history of cancer. Multigene panel tests include BRCA1 and BRCA2 and many other genes that increase the risk of breast, ovarian, and other cancers. If your BRCA1 and BRCA2 test was negative, then you may or may not have mutations in other genes. A newer type of testing, called next generation sequencing, massively parallel sequencing, or deep sequencing, has made testing for multiple genes at the same time faster and less expensive. If a genetic mutation is found, this could explain the cancers in a specific family and provide information about who is at risk and the appropriate types of monitoring and prevention/risk reduction methods.
When You Can’t Find Your Family History
While many women already know if their mother, sister, or daughter have had breast cancer, you might not have this information.
If your close family members passed away at a young age, if some of them didn’t have access to health care , if you were adopted, or if members of your family have been otherwise separated, you might not know which illnesses run in your family.
While family history is important information, breast cancer screenings are the most important tools for early detection, whether or not you have a family history of the disease.
Read Also: What Does Stage Three Cancer Mean
Paternal Grandmother Breast Cancer Link
My father’s mother had breast cancer and died around the age of 45 – 50. Can I possibly get it through my father, or can you only contract it through heredity if it’s passed on through females?
Losing a family member to cancer may lead you to ask questions about your own risk. An increased risk for breast cancer is, indeed, heritable from either parent , meaning that itâs possible youâve inherited a mutated gene from your father. However, only five to ten percent of breast cancer cases are actually due to an inherited abnormality. Between 85 and 90 percent â the vast majority â of breast cancer cases are instead due to genetic abnormalities that occur as a result of the aging process and lifestyle behaviors. Read on to learn more about breast cancer, its heritability, and lifestyle changes you may consider making to lower your risk.
Breast cancer is caused by a genetic abnormality, which results in the mutation of genes responsible for regulating the growth of cells in the body and keeping them healthy. Cells generally replace themselves, but gene mutations can âturn onâ and âturn offâ certain genes within a cell, which may lead to the cell dividing without control or order. When this happens, the cell produces identical cells, which collect, form a tumor, and when it occurs in the breast, may ultimately lead to a cancer diagnosis.
What Can I Do To Reduce My Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer Or Ovarian Cancer If I Have A Brca Gene Mutation
A prophylactic, bilateral mastectomy, which is the preventive surgical removal of both breasts, can lower the risk of breast cancer by more than 90%. Only about 3% of breast cancers associated with BRCA mutations are diagnosed before age 30, so most women with a BRCA mutation could consider surgery after 30. However, bilateral mastectomy is an invasive and irreversible procedure.
A prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy, which is the preventive surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes, can lower the risk of ovarian cancer by approximately 90%. It may also help lower the risk of breast cancer by 50% for women who have not been through menopause. A special procedure to look for microscopic cancer in the ovaries and fallopian tubes is recommended after this surgery. Deciding whether to have preventive surgery to lower your risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer is a very personal decision. Your health care team and genetic counselor can help you understand the risks and benefits, based on your health, type of BRCA mutation, and family history of cancer.
Taking oral contraceptives, or birth control pills, for 5 years may lower the risk of ovarian cancer for women with BRCA1 orBRCA2 mutations by up to 50%. However, this must be balanced by a potential slight increase in the risk of breast cancer. Learn more about risk reduction options in this sites Ovarian Cancer section.
Don’t Miss: T3 Breast Cancer
What Other Cancers Are Linked To Harmful Variants In Brca1 And Brca2
Harmful variants in BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase the risk of several additional cancers. In women, these include fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer , both of which start in the same cells as the most common type of ovarian cancer. Men with BRCA2 variants, and to a lesser extent BRCA1 variants, are also at increased risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer . Both men and women with harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 variants are at increased risk of pancreatic cancer, although the risk increase is low .
In addition, certain variants in BRCA1 and BRCA2 can cause subtypes of Fanconi anemia, a rare syndrome that is associated with childhood solid tumors and development of acute myeloid leukemia . The mutations that cause these Fanconi anemia subtypes have a milder effect on protein function than the mutations that cause breast and ovarian cancer. Children who inherit one of these variants from each parent will develop Fanconi anemia.
Yes You Can Inherit Breast Cancer From Your Father Prostate Cancer From Your Mother And Vice Versa Heres Why
I look most like my dad, and he suffered from a heart attack early in life, so I will likely have a heart attack as well.
I have heard iterations of this statement in many genetic counseling sessions. When our interests, features or characteristics more closely align with one side of our family, its common to feel like we might have also inherited the same health traits and risks for certain diseases from that side of the family. However, we each inherit half of our DNA from each biological parent. Therefore, we are equally as likely to inherit risks for diseases or certain traits from our biological mothers and fathers sides.
As a cancer genetic counselor, I assess family histories for cancer occurrence in order to make an accurate risk assessment for an individual. Some of the clues that could point to a hereditary cancer syndrome in a family include:
- cancer diagnosed at early ages
- multiple family members with cancer on the same side of the family
- family members with cancer in multiple generations on the same side of the family
- certain types of cancer, such as ovarian or pancreatic
- certain patterns of cancer within a family such as breast/ovarian/prostate or uterine/colorectal cancer
Even if someone reports a strong family history of colon cancer on their mothers side and that is what they are most concerned about, it is important to collect information regarding cancer history on the individuals fathers side as well.
Don’t Miss: Healing Cancer With Baking Soda
Dad Can Pass Down Hidden Breast Cancer Gene
A deadly genes path can hide in a family tree when a woman has few aunts and older sisters, making it appear that her breast cancer struck out of nowhere when it really came from Dad.
A new study suggests thousands of young women with breast cancer an estimated 8,000 a year in the U.S. arent offered testing to identify faulty genes and clarify their medical decisions.
Guidelines used by insurance companies to decide coverage for genetic testing should change to reflect the findings, said study co-author Dr. Jeffrey Weitzel of City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif. Testing can cost more than $3,000.
Interestingly, its about Dad, Weitzel said. Half of genetic breast cancers are inherited from a womans father, not her mother. But unless Dad has female relatives with breast cancer, the faulty gene may have been passed down silently, without causing cancer.
Risk often overlookedWeitzel said doctors often overlook the genetic risk from the fathers side of the family.
The study, appearing in Wednesdays Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the genetic test results from 306 women diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50.
None of the cancer patients in the study had a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
Women who were adopted and dont know their family medical history should be aware of the findings, Weitzel said. Women whose female relatives died young before breast cancer had time to show up also are affected.