Get notified of page updates
ATM: Cancer Treatment
Expert guidelines can help people with an ATM mutation make cancer treatment decisions.

Stay up to date on research and information

Sign Up for FORCE Newsletters
Glossary on

Cancer Treatment for People with Inherited Mutations

Testing positive for an inherited mutation may affect your treatment options or eligibility for clinical trials studying which treatments work best. The following are examples of situations where an mutation may play a part in treatment decision-making. Note that when we use "men" and "women" we are referring to the sex you were assigned at birth.

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. 

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. 

Targeted therapies 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 or other targeted therapies for advanced cancers with no other treatment options

If you have an mutation and another type of 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  or participation in a clinical trial. 

Last updated June 21, 2024