According to the Genetic Counseling for Cancer, only 5-10% of cancers are inherited. Most are caused by environmental or unknown factors. However, genes can influence any cancer, even those caused by something external. Often a combination of factors, not one thing alone, results in cancer.
Understanding Genetic Testing
Martha Thomas, MS, discusses why genetic testing should be considered. View genetic testing transcript.
A genetic counselor determines your risk of getting cancer based on:
- Your personal medical history
- Your family history
- Genetic testing
After collecting and interpreting all of your information and test results, a genetic counselor helps you understand what it all means.
Genetic counselors use this risk assessment to help guide you, your family, and your specialists and providers to a plan of care that is right for you.
Understanding Cancer Genetics
There isn’t just one "cancer gene." One gene may be related to several cancers. The BRCA2 gene, for instance, known for its relationship to breast cancer, can also cause ovarian, prostate, pancreas and skin cancers.
Sometimes, if you’ve been treated for breast cancer, you might be worried about it returning. You may want to prevent that with a mastectomy, or breast removal. But what if you’re actually more at risk to get cancer in your colon? A genetic counselor can help you figure that out.
Don’t know your family’s medical history? We can still do genetic testing to gather helpful information.