Cancer is a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of cells. This happens because of changes in some of the genes inside cells. Genes are pieces of DNA that control how cells make the proteins the body needs to function, as well as how cells are kept in balance. Your genes affect features such as hair and eye color, and height as well as your chance of obtaining certain diseases, such as cancer. An abnormal change in a gene is called a mutation, which can affect how the gene functions. Gene mutations can be either inherited or acquired.
Cancer prevention is action taken to decrease the chance of getting cancer. In 2019, it is estimated that more than 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the US. By taking steps toward prevention, the burden of cancer and the number of deaths caused by cancer can be reduced.
Cancer is a group of related diseases, rather than a single disease. Many things in our genes, lifestyle choices, and the environment around us may increase or decrease our risk of obtaining cancer.
Factors That are Known to Increase the Risk of Cancer:
- Cigarette Smoking and Tobacco Use
- Immunosuppressive Medicines After Organ Transplant
Factors That May Affect the Risk of Cancer:
- Physical Activity
- Environmental Risk Factors
CANCER GENOMICS (CGx)
By analyzing a patient’s DNA we are able to search for specific genetic variants that put one at an increased risk of Hereditary Cancer.
Laboratories, use the latest advances in Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to analyze a patient’s sample. Therefore, providing extensive reports of genetic variants and risk factors. The physician, supported by our genetic counselors, is able to prepare a personalized treatment protocol to address any negative findings. Awareness of one’s risk factors allows patients and their physicians to take a proactive, rather than reactive approach to managing identified risks.
Who Is At Risk?
- An individual with a personal history of cancer
- An individual with one or more family members diagnosed with cancer under the age of 50
- An individual with multiple family members possessing different cancers
- An individual with a family member who has had hereditary
- An individual with a family member who has had hereditary cancer genetic testing and variants were identified
Cancer Genetic Testing
Who should consider genetic testing for cancer risk?
Many experts recommend considering genetic testing for cancer risks when all three of the following criteria are met:
- The person being tested has a personal or family history that implies a hereditary cancer risk condition
- The test results can be adequately interpreted (that is, they can clearly tell whether a specific genetic change is present or not)
- The results offer data that will help guide a person’s medical care in the future
The features of a person’s personal or family medical history that may suggest a hereditary cancer syndrome include:
- Cancer diagnosed at an abnormally young age
- Several different types of cancer that have transpired independently within the same person
- Cancer that has developed in each organ in a set of paired organs, such as both kidneys or both breasts
- Several direct blood relatives that have the same type of cancer (for example, a mother, daughter, and sisters with breast cancer)
- Unusual cases of a particular cancer type (for example, breast cancer in a man)
- The presence of birth defects, such as certain noncancerous (benign) skin growths or skeletal abnormalities, that are known to be associated with inherited cancer syndromes
- Being a member of a racial/ethnic group that is known to possess an increased probability of obtaining a certain hereditary cancer syndrome and having one or more of the above features as well
Many cancer syndromes have been described. The majority of these are generated by highly penetrant mutations that are inherited in a dominant fashion. The list below includes a number of the more common hereditary cancer syndromes for which genetic testing is available, the gene(s) that are mutated in each syndrome, as well as the cancer types most often associated with those syndromes.
Types of Cancer and Related Cancers
- Hereditary breast cancer and ovarian cancer syndrome
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome
- Cowden syndrome (PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome)
- Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer)
- Familial adenomatous polyposis
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 ( Wermer syndrome )
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2
- Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome