If you have a personal or strong family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer or endometrial cancer, you may be at risk. Hereditary or genetic cancer accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all cancers. If you are identified as having a genetic predisposition to cancer, it may significantly affect your healthcare decisions.
WellStar West Georgia Medical Center now offers a hereditary risk assessment program to help determine whether you are at an increased risk for cancer. Dr. Wassim Mchayleh, the medical director for our Oncology Services program, specializes in hematology and oncology and can help you assess your risk.
Please review the following guidelines to help you decide if your personal and/or family medical histories warrant an assessment. If so, please discuss your concerns with your physician and ask for a referral to our program.
If there’s a pattern of cancer in your family, you may benefit from learning more about your own risk factors. Having a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation increases the risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Having one of the hereditary colon cancer gene mutations (Lynch Syndrome*) increases the risk for colorectal, endometrial, ovarian and stomach cancers.
Current cancer research shows that early detection, along with proactive medical care, has been proven to help reduce cancer risk and save lives.
Risk assessments are based entirely on family and medical history. The majority of cancers are not attributable to hereditary factors; however, cancer can be hereditary in some families. You do not actually inherit cancer but rather you inherit a higher risk of developing it.
A simple blood test or buccal specimen (swish and spit) can help you know. There are many factors that indicate a predisposition to cancer which may be hidden in your genes. Mutations, inherited changes, in a number of genes are known to predispose individuals to breast, ovarian, colon and endometrial and other cancers.
A parent who carries a specific gene mutation has a 50 percent chance of passing the gene on to each of their children. Their parents and their siblings also have a 50 percent chance of carrying the same gene mutation. Testing is the only way to know if you carry a gene mutation.
*Lynch Syndrome is an inherited condition that causes an increased risk for colorectal cancer and endometrial cancer.