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Cancer Risk

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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Glossary on

Cancer Risk Associated with Inherited Mutations

If you have tested positive for an  mutation, we recommend speaking with a genetics expert who can look at your personal and family history of cancer, and can help you decide on a plan for managing your risk. Note that when we use "men" and "women" we are referring to the sex you were assigned at birth.

cancer risks include the following:

Cancer Type
Lifetime Risk with MLH1 Mutation
Lifetime Risk in General Population
Average Age of Diagnosis with MLH1 Mutation
Average Age of Diagnosis in General Population
46 - 61%
44 years
68 - 72 years
34 - 54%
49 years
60 years
4 - 20%
46 years
63 years
0.2 - 5%
59 - 60 years
Not specified
May be elevated
63 years
66 years
2 - 7%
59 years
73 years
5 - 7%
52 years
68 years
Small bowel 
0.4 - 11%
47 years
60s - 70s
0.7 - 1.7%
No data
59 years
Biliary tract
1.9 - 3.7%
50 years
70 - 72 years
No data
71 years
Risk for cancer in people with an MLH1 mutation. Source: NCCN: Genetic/Familiar High-Risk Assessment: Colorectal Version 2.2023.

People with an inherited  mutation may have an increased risk for other cancers. The exact risks for the following cancers are unknown:

  • sebaceous skin growths
  • cancer
  • breast cancer 

Research on how inherited mutations in the  gene affect cancer risk is ongoing.

Graph of lifetime risk for colorectal cancer in people with MLH1 mutations     

Graph of lifetime risk for endometrial cancer in women with an MLH1 mutation     


Graph of lifetime risk for ovarian cancer in women with MLH1 mutations     

Graph of lifetime risk for pancreatic cancer for person with an MLH1 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
  • sex assigned at birth
  • specific mutation
  • personal and family health history
  • diet, exercise, lifestyle and other factors

Get Support
Get Support

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

Open Clinical Trials
Open Clinical Trials

The following screening and prevention studies are open to people with

Colorectal cancer

Gynecologic 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 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 an in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and other genes. 

Pancreatic cancer

  • NCT02206360: Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection Program. This pancreatic cancer screening study uses esophageal  to screen for pancreatic cancer in high-risk people. The study is open to people who have a family history of pancreatic cancer and an  mutation or other mutation linked to increased cancer risk.
  • NCT03568630: Blood Markers of Early Pancreas Cancer.  This pancreatic cancer study involves blood samples taken over time to look for biomarkers of pancreatic cancer in high-risk people. The study is open to people with an  mutation or other mutation linked to increased cancer risk.
  • NCT03250078: A Pancreatic Cancer Screening Study in Hereditary High-Risk Individuals. The main goal of this study is to screen and detect pancreatic cancer and precursor lesions in individuals with a strong family history or genetic predisposition to pancreatic cancer.  and magnetic cholangiopancreatography (MRI/MRCP) will be utilized to screen for  pancreatic lesions.

Other clinical trials for patients with endometrial cancer can be found here.


Last updated December 31, 2023