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Hereditary Cancer and Genetic Testing

Cancer treatment for people with inherited  mutations

People with an inherited mutation who have been diagnosed with cancer may have different treatment options than people without a mutation. You may also consider enrolling in a clinical trial studying which treatments work best for people with an inherited mutation. To learn more about standard of care treatment options for specific types of cancer, visit our section on Cancer Treatment by Cancer Type

If you have an inherited  mutation, have been diagnosed with cancer and any of the situations below apply to you, you may want to speak to your doctor about your medical options.

Regardless of diagnosis and situation, people with an  mutation may qualify for clinical trials looking for more effective treatments for cancer.


PARP inhibitors

PARP inhibitors are a type of that work by blocking a protein used to repair damaged . They were initially developed to treat cancers in people with an inherited  or  mutation. Since then, research and additional approvals have expanded use of PARP inhibitors to more situations. 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 , Lynparza (olaparib) has received FDA-approval to treat men with , , who have a mutation in or another gene linked to a certain type of damage repair. Lynparza has been approved to treat men whose cancer has progressed on enzalutamide (Xtandi) or abiraterone (Zytiga). 


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 women with advanced ovarian cancer learn if they may benefit from a .

  • Advanced cancer which has recurred after third-line treatment:
    • testing can help women with advanced ovarian cancer which has recurred after three lines of treatment learn if they may benefit from the Zejula ().
  • after first-line treatment
    • testing can help women with advanced ovarian cancer learn if they may benefit from the Lynparza (olaparib) in combination with Avastin (bevacizumab) as  after first-line platinum chemotherapy.
    •  is approved for  in women with advanced ovarian, , or primary peritoneal cancer who had a complete or partial response to first-line 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. 


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 inherited mutation 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 

Based on research in people who have a mutation in both copies of their gene (see our Other Considerations section), there have been some questions raised about the safety of radiation therapy to treat cancer in people with a single  mutation. According to experts, cancer patients with a single  mutation can undergo radiation therapy to treat their cancer as recommended by their oncologist. 

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

updated: 03/12/2022

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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. 

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.

updated: 01/22/2022

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Breast cancer

Pancreatic cancer

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

updated: 02/21/2022

Last updated February 15, 2022