Treatments & Services
What Type of Cancers can you Genetic Test for?
Inherited cancer syndromes are caused by mutations (abnormal changes) in genes that control cell growth and DNA repair and are passed down from generation to generation. Typically, it’s unlikely that a single gene change will lead to cancer. In most cases, it takes multiple changes over a lifetime to cause cancer.
There are two common hereditary cancer syndromes that can be detected with genetic testing:
- Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome
- Lynch Syndrome
Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome
Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome is caused by inherited gene changes in BRCA1 and BRCA2. Inherited changes in these genes increase the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, pancreatic cancer, melanoma, and also prostate cancer in men. Cancers associated with changes in these genes often occur at much earlier ages than most other cancer diagnoses.
Because BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene changes are relatively rare in the general population, genetic testing is only recommended if the person’s individual and/or family history suggests the possible presence of a BRCA gene change.
Family history factors associated with an increased likelihood of having a BRCA gene change include:
- Breast cancer diagnosed before age 50 years
- Cancer in both breasts (bilateral disease)
- Breast and ovarian cancers in either the same woman or the same family
- Ovarian cancer or fallopian tube cancer (any age)
- A male in the family who was diagnosed with breast cancer
- Triple negative breast cancer at or before age 60 years
- Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and a personal and/or family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or pancreatic cancer.
Lynch Syndrome, also sometimes called Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC), is caused by a change in one of five genes that monitor and repair genetic errors that occur in the cells. Individuals with Lynch Syndrome are at a higher risk for colon cancer and endometrial cancer, as well as other cancers, such as stomach cancer, ovarian cancer, and brain cancer. Changes in the MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS2, or EPCAM genes are most commonly associated with Lynch Syndrome.