Thinking about cancer or dealing with cancer risk can be scary or overwhelming, but we believe that receiving information and resources is comforting, empowering, and lifesaving.
Cancer is a common disease, so most families will have some members who have had cancer. Cancer that is not due to an inherited gene mutation (change) is called sporadic cancer. It is believed that most—perhaps 80%—of all cancers are sporadic. This means even if cancer does not run in a family, a family member can still be at risk for some type of cancer in his or her lifetime.
Sporadic cancer and hereditary cancer differ in several ways that may affect health care decisions:
Hereditary cancers often occur earlier than the sporadic form of the same cancer, so experts often recommend different screening, at a younger age for people with a gene mutation or hereditary cancer in their family.
Hereditary cancers can sometimes be more aggressive than the sporadic form of the same cancer. For example, hereditary prostate cancers tend to be more aggressive and more likely to spread than sporadic prostate cancers.
Hereditary cancers may respond to different treatments than sporadic cancers. For example, PARP inhibitors are drugs that were designed to treat cancers associated with BRCA mutations. The agent Keytruda has been approved for treating cancers in people with one of the mutations that causes Lynch Syndrome.