Everyone is at risk for cancer, but if your patients have had cancer, or have a family history of cancers, he or she might be at a higher risk than the general public.
What is Genomics?
Genomics is the study of genetic (hereditary) factors behind diseases. The Cancer Genomics Program receives CDC grant funding to increase the use of family health history, genetic counseling, testing, and risk management services for BRCA 1/2 and Lynch Syndrome mutations.
These mutations can greatly increase a person’s risk of breast, ovarian, colorectal or uterine cancers.
What is genetic counseling?
Genetic counselors are people trained in genetics (inherited traits).
A genetic counselor:
- Reviews your family health history
- Helps you decide if genetic testing is right for you
- Talks about any fears or concerns you may have about genetic testing
- Explains the testing results
If you have a family history, or a personal history of breast, ovarian, uterine, or colon cancer, you may want to meet with a genetic counselor to find out if genetic testing is right for you.
Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer BRCA 1/2
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that protect you from getting certain cancers. If you have a mutation (change) in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene you are more likely to get breast and/or ovarian cancer.
Even men who have a mutation are at risk for prostate cancer and breast cancer. Both men and women with these mutations (changes in genes) are also at risk for pancreatic cancer and melanoma.
BRCA1/2 mutations (changes) are more likely to be seen in families with a history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. Knowing if you have a BRCA1/2 mutation can help you to make choices that can reduce your risk of cancer.
Hereditary colorectal (colon) cancer and Lynch Syndrome
If you have Lynch Syndrome, you are much more likely to develop colorectal cancer, a type of uterine cancer called endometrial cancer, and other cancers. Blood relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews are also at a risk of having Lynch Syndrome. Lynch Syndrome is more likely in families where people have had colon cancer before age 50, or in women who have had uterine cancer. The only way to know if you have Lynch syndrome is through genetic testing. Knowing if you have Lynch Syndrome can help you make choices that can reduce your chances of getting colorectal cancer.
I tested positive for the BRCA 1/2 mutation, now what?
If you tested positive for Lynch Syndrome or a BRCA1/2 mutation, your parents, children, sisters, and brothers have a 50% chance of having this condition.
If you test positive you should talk with your doctor or a genetic counselor.
Family health history
Knowing and acting on your family health history is a way to protect your health. Collect your family health history and share it with your doctor at your next visit. Your doctor can use it to help you prevent the diseases you may have a risk of developing.