Around Our Town...To Your Health
Hereditary Cancer Syndromes
09/01/2005 - Most cancer occurs by chance (also called sporadic). In some families we see more cancer than we would expect by chance alone. Determining which of these families have cancer related to an inherited gene mutation is important, as the cancer risks in hereditary cancer families are much higher than the general population.
Three types of common cancers now have genetic tests that can show whether an individual or a family may have a specific mutation that has been passed down from either the father or the mother. The three hereditary cancers are: Hereditary Breast and Ovarian, Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC), and Hereditary Melanoma.
Hereditary Breast and Ovarian cancer syndrome is an inherited condition that causes an increased risk for ovarian cancer and early onset breast cancer (before age 50). Red flags for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome are any one or more of the following:
Breast cancer before age 50
Ovarian cancer at any age
Both breast and ovarian cancer
Bilateral breast cancer
Male breast cancer at any age
The vast majority of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer is due to a mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. These mutations can be inherited from either your mother or father.
Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC) syndrome is an inherited condition that causes an increased risk for early onset colorectal cancer (before age 50) as well as other related cancers* (endrometrial, stomach, ovarian, kidney/urinary tract, bilary tract, brain, and small bowel). Red flags for HNPCC syndrome are any one or more of the following:
Colorectal cancer before age 50
Colorectal adenomatous polyps
Colorectal cancer after age 50
Other HNPCC-related cancer
The majority of HNPCC is due to a mutation in either the MLH1 or MSH2 genes. These mutations can be inherited from either parent. Without appropriate intervention, mutation carriers have a significant risk to develop more than one HNPCC-related cancer. The risk of a second cancer for these individuals is 30% within 10 years and 50% within 15 years
Hereditary Melanoma Cancer syndrome is an inherited condition that causes an increased risk for melanoma, and in some families, an increased risk from pancreatic cancer. These mutations can also be inherited from either your mother or your father. Red Flags for hereditary melanoma syndrome are two of any of the following:
Melanoma at any age
More than one melanoma in the same individual
Both melanoma and pancreatic cancer
A personal and family history of melanoma and multiple atypical moles
Genetic testing has the potential to save lives. Taking a closer look at your family history is the first step toward finding out whether you may be at risk. Choosing to know more is a decision you can make with the help of your doctor or other healthcare provider. If you have an inherited mutation, you do have options. Your healthcare team can help you find ways to help reduce your risk now.
Monday, September 12 at noon, the Wyoming Medical Center-Community Cancer Resource Center along with Dr. Diane Turner, Medical Oncologist will be hosting a free community program for those interested in hereditary cancer syndromes. The speaker is Denise Sartz, a board certified advanced oncology nurse practitioner with expertise in genetics. Ms. Sartz will help the audience understand hereditary cancer syndromes and what it means for them and their families. Current cancer research shows that early detection, along with proactive medical care, has been proved to help reduce cancer risk, and save lives.
For more information on this free community presentation or to RSVP, please contact Janet Smith, 577-2971.
Remember: Knowing your risk and doing everything you can to lower it could make a big difference for you, your family, and for your future healthcare choices.