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Hereditary Cancer and Genetic Testing

Cancer risk associated with inherited  mutations

If you have tested positive for a  mutation, we recommend that you consult with a genetics expert who can assess your personal and family history of cancer, and help you determine the best risk management plan. Compared with people in the general population, people with mutations have a higher risk for several cancers. The average age of a cancer diagnosis tends to be younger in people with a mutation than in people who do not have a mutation. The risks listed below are estimates based on different large studies.


Risks in women

  • Breast cancer: The lifetime risk with a  mutation is about 60 percent, compared with 12.5 percent for a woman of average risk. 
  • Ovarian cancer: The lifetime risk with a  mutation is about 15-30 percent, compared with 1.3 percent for a woman of average risk.
  • Second breast cancer in women who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer: The lifetime risk is about 25 percent.


Risks in men

  • cancer: The lifetime risk for a man with a  mutation is about 20-60 percent, compared with 12 percent for a man of average risk. cancer in men with an inherited  mutation may be more aggressive than in men without an inherited mutation. 
  • Male breast cancer: The lifetime risk for a man with a  mutation is about 2-7 percent. Breast cancers in men with inherited  mutations tend to occur at a younger age than in men without inherited mutations.


Risks in all people

  • Pancreatic cancer: The lifetime risk for a person with a  mutation is about 5-10 percent compared with 1 percent for a person of average risk. 
  • Research on how mutations in the  gene affect cancer risk is ongoing. Some research suggests that  mutations may increase risk for melanoma. However, because these studies are not conclusive, genetics experts often look at a person’s family history of cancer to help people with  mutations understand their risk for additional cancers.

 

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                x-tooltip='<p>BRCA2&nbsp;is a gene found on chromosome 13. Mutations in BRCA2&nbsp;increase the risk for cancers including breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, melanoma and possibly other cancers. BRCA2&nbsp;mutations are among the genes associated with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome, also known as HBOC.&nbsp;</p>
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            >BRCA2</button> mutation     Graph of lifetime risk for ovarian cancer for women with a <button
                x-data
                class='glossary-tip tt-brca2'
                x-tooltip='<p>BRCA2&nbsp;is a gene found on chromosome 13. Mutations in BRCA2&nbsp;increase the risk for cancers including breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, melanoma and possibly other cancers. BRCA2&nbsp;mutations are among the genes associated with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome, also known as HBOC.&nbsp;</p>
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            >BRCA2</button> mutation

Graph of lifetime risk for pancreatic cancer for a person with a <button
                x-data
                class='glossary-tip tt-brca2'
                x-tooltip='<p>BRCA2&nbsp;is a gene found on chromosome 13. Mutations in BRCA2&nbsp;increase the risk for cancers including breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, melanoma and possibly other cancers. BRCA2&nbsp;mutations are among the genes associated with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome, also known as HBOC.&nbsp;</p>
'
            >BRCA2</button> mutation     Graph of lifetime risk for prostate cancer in men with a <button
                x-data
                class='glossary-tip tt-brca2'
                x-tooltip='<p>BRCA2&nbsp;is a gene found on chromosome 13. Mutations in BRCA2&nbsp;increase the risk for cancers including breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, melanoma and possibly other cancers. BRCA2&nbsp;mutations are among the genes associated with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome, also known as HBOC.&nbsp;</p>
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            >BRCA2</button> mutation

It is important to note that cancer risks are estimates over the course of a person's lifetime. Your lifetime risk and risk over the next five years will vary depending on:

  • current age
  • gender assigned at birth
  • specific mutation
  • personal and family health history
  • diet, exercise, lifestyle and other factors
Last updated September 15, 2022

Get Support
Get Support

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

updated: 08/06/2022

Open Clinical Trials
Open Clinical Trials

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

Multiple cancers

Breast cancer

cancer

Ovarian cancer

Pancreatic cancer

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

updated: 09/11/2022