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Genes Associated with Hereditary Cancers

Learn about genes and cancer, signs of hereditary cancer, genetic counseling, types of genetic tests and what results mean for you and your family.


Several laboratories offer panel tests that search for mutations in many different genes associated with hereditary cancer risk.  Some of these panel tests are specific for certain cancers, such as breast and/or ovarian, while others search for gene mutations that are associated with multiple types of cancers.  A typical breast and/or ovarian cancer test panel looks for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as well as other genes associated with increased breast and ovarian cancer risk.

Not all panel tests look for mutations in the same genes, so it is important to consult with a genetic counselor or medical geneticist to help you determine which panel test is right for you. 

Many of the gene panels look for mutations in genes associated with known hereditary cancer syndromes, such as Lynch syndrome, Cowden syndrome, and others.  While these so-called “high penetrance” gene mutations are still areas of active research, national guidelines often help health care providers and patients to make decisions about managing risk.

We recommend consulting with a qualified genetics professional before undergoing genetic testing to make sure that the proper tests are ordered and that results are interpreted and explained correctly. To learn more see our "Should I Get Genetic Testing?" or consider signing up for our Peer Navigator Program to get one-to-one support as you make your decsions around genetic testing.


update 10/17/16

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