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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

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 a 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.

Breast cancer

Surgical decisions 

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

Unlike women, the risk for a second breast cancer diagnosis in men with a mutation is low. For this reason, mastectomy may not be recommended. 

Treatment options for breast cancer

The PARP inhibitors, Lynparza (also known as ) and (also known as ) both have received approval for treating breast cancer caused by a  mutation.

Treatment options for , high-risk breast cancer

The , Lynparza is approved to treat people with  breast cancer who have an inherited  mutation and who are at high risk for recurrence.

after treatment for advanced ovarian, or primary peritoneal cancer

 is a type of treatment that is given after chemotherapy treatment has been completed to keep the cancer from returning. There are three oral PARP inhibitors with  approval for in advanced ovarian, and primary peritoneal cancer; Lynparza,  () and (). 

  • People with a mutation who have completed front-line (their first course) of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer may use Lynparza as to delay recurrence.
  • Lynparza in combination with Avastin (bevacizumab) may be used as  after front-line platinum chemotherapy in people with a mutation.
  • Lynparza, , and may each be used as maintenance therapy to treat recurrent ovarian cancer in people who had either a complete or partial response to the most recent line of recurrence therapy. These PARP inhibitors have been approved for  in this setting regardless of mutation status. However, research suggests that the drugs work particularly well for people with a  mutation.

Pancreatic cancer

Choice of chemotherapy for advanced pancreatic cancer

People with pancreatic cancer and an inherited mutation may respond better to treatment that includes a type of chemotherapy known as platinum. Oxaliplatin is a platinum-containing drug often used to treat pancreatic cancer. 

Maintenancy therapy after chemotherapy for advanced pancreatic cancer

The oral , Lynparza may be used as for people with a mutation who completed platinum-based chemotherapy and whose pancreatic cancer has not come back or gotten worse.

Treatment for prostate cancer

cancers tend to be slow-growing in most people, but cancers in people with a mutation may be aggressive.

Several PARP inhibitors have received approval for treating , castraction-resistant cancer (mCRPC) in people with mutations. 

  • Akeega is a drug that combines the hormone therapy drug with the niraparib in a single tablet. Akeega may be used in combination with prednisone as a treatment for castration-resistant  cancer (mCRPC) for people with a or mutation.
  • Lynparza may be used to treat MCRPC in people who have a mutation in  or another gene linked to  damage repair whose cancer got worse or came back after receiving hormone therapy with  (Xtandi) or (Zytiga).
  •  may be used to treat  castration-resistant cancer in people who have already received treatment with a certain type of hormone therapy and chemotherapy.
  • () may be used to treat people with ,  who have a mutation in  or another gene linked to a certain type of damage repair. 

PARP inhibitors for other advanced cancers with no treatment options

If you have a 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

The following are cancer treatment studies enrolling people with a or mutation:

Advanced cancers of different types

breast cancer

A number of other clinical trials for patients with breast cancer can be found here.

breast cancer   

A number of other clinical trials for patients with breast cancer can be found here.

Ovarian cancer  

A number of other clinical trials for people with ovarian cancer can be found here.

Pancreatic cancer:

A number of other clinical trials for people with pancreatic cancer can be found here.

prostate cancer 

prostate cancer

A number of other clinical trials enrolling people with cancer can be found by searching here.

Last updated December 30, 2023