Hereditary cancers are caused by gene mutations that people are born with; passed down to them from either their mother or their father.
Laboratory tests performed on blood, saliva or tumor tissue can analyze a person's genes to tell if they carry an inherited mutation in a gene that is associated with an increased risk for cancer. Genetic testing in people already diagnosed with cancer can also determine if their cancer was caused by an inherited mutation.
Types of inherited gene mutations
The two genes most commonly responsible for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are named BRCA1 and BRCA2. Mutations in these genes can also increase the risk for other cancers, including male breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and melanoma.
The five genes most commonly responsible for hereditary colorectal and endometrial cancer are also known as Lynch Syndrome genes. Mutations in these genes can also increase the risk for ovarian, stomach, pancreatic and other cancers. Mutations in two of the Lynch Syndromegenes have also been linked to increased risk for breast cancer.
Other gene mutations have been discovered that increase the risk for these cancers including PALB2, CHEK2, ATM, BRIP1 and others.
There are many different types of genetic tests. Some tests look for one or a few specific gene mutations. Other tests—known as multigene panels—look for many gene mutations at the same time. The best test for you will depend on your exact situation.
Genetic testing can be complex:
Results may affect medical decisions for cancer treatment, screening, and prevention.
The decision to undergo genetic testing is a very personal one, and the benefits and limitations depend on your unique circumstances.
Not all genetic tests are the same: ordering the correct test and accurately interpreting the test results is not straight-forward.
For these reasons, it is important to speak with a specialist in cancer genetics—known as a genetic counselor—if you are concerned that cancer may run in your family or if you are interested in genetic testing.
Genetic test results can affect people's decisions about medical care. For people who have already been diagnosed with cancer, genetic test results may affect their treatment options.
Genetic test results also affect the risk for a new diagnosis of cancer. People who test positive for a genetic mutation have medical options for lowering their cancer risk or detecting cancer early when it is most treatable.
Insurance will usually cover the cost of genetic testing.
In the United States, genetic results are usually available in 2-3 weeks. Under some circumstances—for individuals newly diagnosed with cancer, for whom test results may affect treatment choices—the test can be run more quickly.
The BRCA gene test is offered only to people who are likely to have an inherited mutation based on personal or family history, or who have a specific type of breast cancer. TheBRCA gene test isn't routinely performed on women at average risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Genetic tests can help show if members of certain families have inherited a high risk of colorectal cancer due to inherited cancer syndromes such as Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC) or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).
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At RM Genetics, we strive to work with health providers and facilities to help them offer personalized medical care to their patients and residents. We provide complete program management and support that allows healthcare providers the ability to offer optimal patient care with no inconveniences or added operational requirements. Our Pharmacogenomic testing programs are customized to the patient and resident treatment types and are covered by Medicare and other Health Insurance providers.