Hereditary Cancer

Research is offering us more and more clues about the causes of many different type of cancer. Genetics is far from the only cause, however genetic mutations have been shown to increase someone’s risk of various different types of cancers, including bowel, breast, ovarian, womb and prostate cancer.

Genetic testing can show whether you have an increased likelihood of developing one of a range of cancers that are known to be caused by faulty genes.

As well as some of the more common cancers listed above, genetic testing can show if you are increased risk of pancreatic cancer, thyroid, melanoma, stomach and kidney cancer.

The number of cancers that can be tested for is increasing all the time as researchers identify new genetic mutations.

Genetic Testing: How it works

Genetic testing uses a simple cheek swab to check for changes in your genes, chromosomes or proteins. These changes are called mutations and they can help to estimate your chances of developing certain types of cancers that are known to be caused by genetic mutations.

A genetic test cannot predict with certainty that you will get cancer but it can show if you are at higher risk than the rest of the population.

Who should be tested?

You might consider genetic testing if your personal or family history suggests that you may be at risk of hereditary cancer. This is any cancer caused by an inherited gene mutation.

You are at most risk of hereditary cancer if:

  • Three or more close relatives have the same or related forms of cancer.
  • Two or more relatives were diagnosed with cancer at an early age.
  • You have a relative with two or more types of cancer.
  • You have relatives with rare forms of cancer such as ovarian cancer, sarcoma or adrenocortical.

Benefits of genetic testing

The main benefit of genetic testing for cancer is that knowing you are at increased risk allows you to take action to lower your risk. People who have a positive test for hereditary cancer may choose to:

  • Have regular screening so that cancer can be detected in its early stages when treatment is likely to be most successful.
  • Make lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy balanced diet, taking regular exercise, losing weight or giving up smoking.
  • Take preventative medication prescribed by a doctor which may help to reduce their cancer risk.
  • Talk to their children and other family members about their own increased risk of cancer and encourage them to take a test. Parents, siblings and children of someone with a positive hereditary cancer test may have up to a 50% chance of carrying the same mutation.

Hereditary Cancer Genetic Test

Myogenes has developed one of the most comprehensive tests for hereditary cancer. It looks for mutations in 98 genes that are known to be linked to 25 types of cancer.

The test is quick and painless using a simple saliva sample, which is sent off to the laboratory for testing.

The saliva sample can either be taken by yourself or your GP/consultant.

Alternatively, you can access our Hereditary Cancer Test, including a telephone consultation with one of the Myogenes registered clinicians. Please enquire for more information.

A report is sent to your GP detailing the presence or absence of mutations associated with an increased cancer risk. It also includes a personalised health risk management plan that will enable you to discuss with your doctor any measures you need to take to take control of your health.

Next steps

For more information about hereditary cancer testing, speak to your GP, consultant or clinician, or call the friendly team at Myogenes.