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Cancer Treatment

Read about different genes that are linked to hereditary cancer, their associated risks and guidelines for screening, preventing and treating cancers in people with inherited mutations in these genes.

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Cancer Treatment for People with Inherited Mutations

Inherited mutations may affect treatment options or eligibility for clinical trials studying which treatments work best. The following are examples of situations where an mutation may affect cancer treatment decisions. 

Breast cancer surgical decisions 

Because of the high risk for a second breast cancer diagnosis, women who are diagnosed with breast cancer who test positive for an in may choose  mastectomy rather than and radiation. Mutation carriers who undergo mastectomy are less likely to develop a second breast cancer. 

Radiation therapy in people with an mutation 

People with an in both copies of the gene (people with Ataxia-Telangiesctasia) are very sensitive to radiation damage. However, according to experts, people with a single  mutation can safely undergo radiation therapy to treat their cancer as recommended by their oncologist. 

PARP inhibitors for advanced cancers

PARP inhibitors are a type of that work by blocking a protein used to repair damaged . People with an  mutation who have been diagnosed with cancer may want to ask their doctor about whether they might benefit from therapy or a research study. 

PARP inhibitors for prostate cancer

The PARP inhibitors, Lynparza () and () have received FDA-approval to treat men with , , who have a mutation in or another gene linked to a certain type of damage repair. 

PARP inhibitors for advanced ovarian, or primary peritoneal cancer

Several PARP inhibitors have been approved to treat ovarian cancers at different stages of the disease. In some situations, a tumor known as an test ("hemologous recombination deficiency") can help identify which ovarian cancers may respond to treatment with a .

after treatment

  • testing can help women with advanced ovarian cancer learn if they may benefit from the , Lynparza () in combination with Avastin (bevacizumab) as  after platinum chemotherapy.
  • () is approved for  in women with advanced ovarian, , or primary peritoneal cancer who had a complete or partial response to platinum-based chemotherapy. for does not require an test. 

after treatment of recurrent cancer

  • , () and Lynparza are all approved for maintenance therapy in women with recurrent epithelial ovarian, , or primary peritoneal cancer who are in a complete or partial response to platinum based chemotherapy. In this setting, none of these drugs requires an test. 

To learn more about treatment options for specific types of cancer, visit our section on Cancer Treatment by Cancer Type

PARP inhibitors for advanced cancers with no other treatment options

If you have an mutation and advanced cancer that no longer responds to standard therapy, you may want to talk with your doctor about whether you might benefit from treatment with a

Get Support
Get Support

FORCE offers many peer support programs for people with inherited mutations. 

Paying For Care
Paying For Care

Paying for cancer treatment

The majority of public and private health insurance plans are required to cover cancer diagnosis and treatment; copays, coinsurance and deductibles often apply. Patient costs and coverage for specific doctors, facilities or treatments may vary based on your health plan. Visit our section on Insurance and Paying for Care: Treatment  for more information, links to sample appeal letters and other resources. 

If you need information about finding an insurance plan, watch our video: Choosing Wisely: How to Pick Insurance Plans.

Some pharmaceutical companies have assistance programs that help cover the cost for their medications: 

Organizations that offer co-pay assistance:

Other resources:

  • The American Cancer Society provides information and resources on covering the cost of cancer care. Public assistance, such as Medicaid may be available if you are ineligible for other programs. 
  • Needy Meds: Assistance programs to help patients with cost of medications and other healthcare.
  • Triage Cancer offers tools and resources to help individuals cope with the financial aspects of a cancer diagnosis.

Open Clinical Trials
Open Clinical Trials

Multiple cancer types

Breast cancer

Pancreatic cancer


Visit our Research Search and Enroll Tool to find additional cancer treatment studies. 

Last updated December 30, 2023