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Other Cancers

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Overview

Other cancers have been linked to hereditary breast or ovarian cancer. Some cancers are associated with BRCA mutations; others are associated with other cancer syndromes. As more research is done on hereditary cancer syndromes, the research community learns more about risks for less common cancers than breast or ovarian cancer. A cancer genetics expert will know the most up-to-date risk information and advise you of your options for risk management.

Uterine cancer

Uterine cancer is also called “endometrial cancer." Women with a BRCA1 mutation may be at slightly elevated risk for rare and aggressive uterine cancers. A study presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists 2014 annual conference followed 525 BRCA mutation carriers who had their ovaries and fallopian tubes surgically removed, but kept the uterus intact.  During the follow-up period of 0.1-16.9 years, 4 women with BRCA1 mutations were diagnosed with aggressive uterine cancer; two of the women had used tamoxifen, while two others had not. Despite the small numbers, this increase in uterine cancer risk was statistically significant. BRCA2 mutations have not been associated with increased uterine cancer risk.

Uterine risk is increased in women who carry one of the genes that causes HNPCC, a hereditary syndrome which also causes an increased risk for colon cancer. One study showed the lifetime risk for uterine cancer in this group can be as high as 60%. 

Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer refers to cancer affecting the large intestines or the rectum. In the general population the average lifetime risk for colorectal cancer is about 6%. Early studies on BRCA showed a small increase in colon cancer risk but more recent studies showed no elevation of colorectal cancer risk. Lynch Syndrome, also known as Hereditary Nonpolyposis-Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC), a hereditary syndrome linked to uterine and ovarian cancer, elevates the risk for colorectal cancer. Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is a hereditary syndrome linked with young onset colorectal cancer. Other gene mutations have been found to be associated with an increased risk for colorectal cancer. If colorectal cancer runs in your family, it is important to consult with a genetics specialist to determine risk and management options.

Melanoma

Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer. In the general population the average lifetime risk for melanoma is about 2%. Studies have shown a slightly increased risk for melanoma in carriers of BRCA2 mutations. Other gene mutations have been associated with an increased risk for melanoma. FORCE and Moffitt Cancer Center collaborated on a survey (unpublished) which suggested a correlation between BRCA 1 mutations and melanoma. More research is needed to confirm this link.

If melanoma runs in your family, it is important to consult with a genetics specialist to determine risk and management options.

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is very rare in the general population. The average person has less than a 1% lifetime risk for this disease. Although studies on carriers of both  BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations have indicated an elevated lifetime risk for pancreatic cancer, the risk is still small. Other hereditary syndromes have been linked with an increased risk for pancreatic cancer including Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and HNPCC.

There is no accurate way to screen for pancreatic cancer; 75 percent of diagnoses are advanced. Researchers are trying to develop a blood test that can accurately screen for pancreatic cancer, and are exploring whether endoscopic ultrasound—passing a tiny scope with an ultrasound probe down the esophagus to the stomach— can more effectively  find abnormalities, and detect early-stage cancer in people at high risk. Visit our research study page for links to clinical trials for early detection of pancreatic cancer. 

If pancreatic cancer runs in your family, it is important to consult with a genetics specialist to determine risk and management options.

Prostate cancer

In the general population, prostate cancer is common. Men have about a 14% risk for developing the disease by age 80. Both BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been linked with an increased risk for prostate cancer, particularly younger onset cancer diagnosed before age 65. The risk for prostate cancer is higher in BRCA2 mutation carriers than BRCA1 mutation carriers. BRCA2-related prostate cancer can be more aggressive and have a poorer prognosis than sporadic prostate cancer. 

Other genes are believed to increase the risk for hereditary prostate cancer. If prostate cancer runs in your family, it is important to consult with a genetics specialist to determine risk and management options.

The IMPACT study is a prostate surveillance research study for men with a BRCA mutation.

Stomach cancer

In certain families, carriers of a BRCA2 mutation may have a slightly increased lifetime risk for stomach cancers, especially in families with a history of colon cancer. Other gene mutations have been found to be associated with an increased risk for stomach cancer. If stomach cancer runs in your family, it is important to consult with a genetics specialist to determine risk and management options.


Disclaimer: Health links are made available for educational purposes only. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice. All health information should be discussed with your health care provider. Please read our full disclaimer for more information.

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