What is hereditary cancer?
A very small number (5 -10 %)of people are born with a genetic mutation in the DNA which they inherit from their mother and/or father. These genes are passed on from one close blood relative to another. Cancers caused by an inherited gene mutation are called hereditary cancer.
Individuals who inherit these abnormal genes have an increased risk of developing cancer within their lifetime and at an earlier age. People with mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have an elevated risk of developing breast cancer.
Having dense breasts is another hereditary condition which increases the risk of developing breast cancer even more than having a family member with breast cancer. The earlier cancer is detected, the better the outcome. Tumors, especially if they are small, are difficult to detect in dense breasts by using mammography and can lead to a false negative diagnosis and delayed treatment. For more information go to the Dense Breasts Canada website densebreastscanada.ca to view the video “What’s the Fuss?”
Scientists have identified some of the genetic mutations that increase the risk of being diagnosed with breast, ovarian and colon cancers. Researchers are working on identifying the genetic mutations which increase the risk of other cancers and also other non-communicable diseases.
Certain groups of people such as those of Eastern European Jewish ancestry and African-Americans have a high incidence of the BCRA mutation which increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.
For more information about hereditary cancer go to:
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-and-screening/reduce-cancer-risk/make-informed-decisions/check-family-history/?region=on
American Cancer Society www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/genetics.html
Canadian Breast Cancer Network https://www.cbcn.ca/en/hereditary-breast-cancer
Dense Breasts Canada www.densebreastscanada.ca