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Risk management for people with inherited mutations

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) provides risk management guidelines for people with  mutations. We recommend that you speak with a genetics expert, who can look at your personal and family history of cancer and can help you decide on a plan to manage your risk. You can learn more about risk-management options in our section on Screening and Risk Reduction by Cancer Type. Note that when we use "men" and "women" we are referring to the sex you were assigned at birth.

Breast cancer screening and prevention for women

  • Begin mammograms at age 40, or earlier based on the family history of breast cancer.
  • Have a discussion with your doctor about of the benefits and risks of yearly with contrast beginning at age 30-35.
  • Have a discussion with your doctor about the option of risk-reducing mastectomy based on your personal and family history of breast cancer.
  • Tamoxifen and other drugs that block can reduce breast cancer risk in high-risk women. More research is needed to prove that they are effective for women with mutations.

Ovarian cancer screening and prevention

  • There has not been enough research to show a benefit from ovarian cancer screening and prevention in people who have an mutation. For this reason, experts recommend managing ovarian cancer risk based on family history of cancer. 
  • Symptom awareness: Be aware of ovarian cancer symptoms. Report to any of the following symptoms that persist for several weeks and are a change from normal to your doctor:
    • pelvic or abdominal pain
    • bloating or distended belly
    • difficulty eating
    • feeling full sooner than normal
    • increased urination or pressure to urinate

Pancreatic cancer screening

There are two tests that are used to look for pancreatic cancer. 

  • Contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is a special type of  imaging that looks closely at the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, bile duct and pancreatic duct to find abnormalities such as cancer.
  • Endoscopic  (EUS) involves passing a tiny scope with an attached  probe down the esophagus to the stomach. This allows doctors to look closely at the pancreas.  

Pancreatic cancer screening for people with an mutation is only recommended for people with a family history of pancreatic cancer.

  • For  mutation carriers with a first- or second- degree relative with pancreatic cancer consider screening beginning at age 50 or 10 years younger than the age of diagnosis of the relative. 
  • Before undergoing screening, you should have a conversation with your doctor about the benefits, risks, costs and limitations of screening.
  • Screening includes annual contrast-enhanced MRI/MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography) and/or EUS (endoscopic ). 
  • Screening should be done at a facility with experience in screening high-risk patients for pancreatic cancer. 

cancer screening

  • By age 40, you should have a conversation with your doctor about the potential benefits, risks, costs and limitations of screening for cancer.
  • If you choose to have screening, the guidelines recommend an annual digital rectal exam and Specific Antigen () test. 

Other cancer screening and prevention

There has not been enough research to show a benefit from screening and prevention for other cancers in people who have an mutation. For this reason, experts recommend managing these risks based on your family history. Cancer screening and prevention research studies may be available.

Last updated February 27, 2023

Get Support
Get Support

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

updated: 08/06/2022

Paying For Care
Paying For Care

Health plan coverage of screening and prevention varies, and deductibles, coinsurance and copays often apply. If you need preventive services and your insurance company denies your claim, your health care provider can help you write an appeal letter, or you can use one of our sample appeal letters. If you need information about finding an insurance plan, watch our video: Choosing Wisely: How to Pick Insurance Plans.

Visit our section on Insurance and Paying for Care: Screening and Prevention for more information. 

updated: 11/15/2022

Open Clinical Trials
Open Clinical Trials

The following are risk-management studies enrolling people with inherited mutations. Check study listings or contact the study team to see if you are eligible. 

Multiple cancers


  • NCT03805919: Men at High Genetic Risk for  Cancer. This is a  cancer screening study using  in high risk men. This study is open to men with , , , , , , , , ,  and other inherited mutations.
  • NCT05129605: Cancer Genetic Risk Evaluation and Screening Study (PROGRESS).  This study will look at how well  MRI works as a screening tool for men at high risk for cancer. This study is open to men with inherited mutations in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and other genes. 

Ovarian cancer

Pancreatic cancer

Additional risk-management clinical trials for people with inherited mutations may be found here.

updated: 09/11/2022