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 previvors" are individuals who are survivors of a predisposition to cancer but who haven’t had the disease. This group includes people who carry a hereditary mutation, a family history of cancer, or some other predisposing factor. The cancer previvor term evolved from a challenge on the FORCE main message board by Jordan, a website regular, who posted, "I need a label!" As a result, the term cancer previvor was chosen to identify those living with risk. The term specifically applies to the portion of our community which has its own unique needs and concerns separate from the general population, but different from those already diagnosed with cancer.
The medical community uses the term "unaffected carrier" to describe those who have not had cancer but have a BRCA, PALB2, PTEN, ATM, BRIP1, CHEK2 or other cancer-predisposing mutation. The term applies from a medical perspective, but doesn't capture the experience of those who face an increased risk for cancer and the need to make medical management decisions. Although cancer previvors face some of the same fears as cancer survivors, undergoing similar tests and confronting similar medical management issues, they face a unique set of emotional, medical, and privacy concerns.
A previvor is anyone facing increased risk of cancer, including those opting for increased screening, risk-reducing medication, or surgery.