Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer week was declared in 2010 to raise awareness about hereditary cancer. Hereditary cancer occurs when an individual has changes or mutations in a gene (for example, BRCA1 and BRCA2 as well as some other genes) that normally protect against cancer.
While medical and scientific experts believe most cancers are not caused by an inherited gene mutation, approximately 10 percent of cancers are. Indeed, BRCA gene mutations are only responsible for causing approximately 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers and 12 percent of ovarian cancers, so about one million Americans have genetic mutations that put them at a high risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Other inherited genetic mutations put individuals at high risk of colon, uterine, pancreatic or prostate cancers.
There are factors in your family history which may lead to a recommendation for genetic testing to determine if you inherited one of these risks. These factors include:
- Young onset cancer, such as breast or colon cancer under age 50
- Rare cancers, such as ovarian or pancreatic cancer
- Multiple generations with the same type of cancer
The High Risk Screening and Genetics Clinic located within the Valley Breast Center offers hereditary cancer genetic testing. You can reach us at 425.656.5062 to schedule an appointment, or speak to your primary care provider to help determine if testing is recommended.
More information about hereditary cancer is available at FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered)