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.

Risk management for people with inherited PALB2 mutations

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) provides risk management guidelines for people with PALB2 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 to determine the best risk management plan. You can learn more about risk management options in our section on Screening and Risk Reduction by Cancer Type

Breast cancer screening and prevention

  • Clinical breast exams every 6-12 months beginning at age 30.
  • Annual mammography (consider 3D mammography if available) and breast MRI with contrast beginning at age 30.
  • Women should have a discussion with their doctors about of the advantages and disadvantages of risk-reducing mastectomy.
    • Research has shown that risk-reducing mastectomy can effectively lower the risk for breast cancer in high risk women by about 90%. Despite this, mastectomy has not been shown to improve overall survival for high risk women. Even after mastectomies, some breast tissue-and therefore some breast cancer risk remains. 
  • Consider enrolling in a research study looking at other methods to screen for cancer, or agents to lower risk. 

Ovarian cancer prevention 

  • The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines recommend that ovarian cancer risk be managed based on family history. In the absence of a family history of ovarian cancer, NCCN does not recommend risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes).
  • Consider enrolling in a research study looking at methods to screen for cancer, or agents to lower risk. 

Pancreatic cancer screening for people with a family history

  • For PALB2 mutations 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. 
  • For mutation carriers who choose pancreatic cancer screening, NCCN recommends that the screening be performed in an experienced facility, ideally under research conditions. Before undergoing screening, people should have a conversation with their doctor about the potential benefits, risks, costs and limitations of screening.
  • Consider annual screening with contrast-enhanced MRI/MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography) and/or EUS (endoscopic ultrasound).
  • Consider enrolling in a research study looking at methods to screen for cancer, or agents to lower risk. 

There has not been enough research to show a benefit from screening and prevention for other cancers in people who have a PALB2 mutation. For this reason, experts recommend managing these risks based on family history of cancer. Cancer screening and prevention research studies may be available for people with PALB2 mutations. 


If you are a person with a PALB2 mutation, you can find peer support through the following resources:


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


The following screening and prevention studies are open to people with a PALB2 mutation. 

Prostate cancer

Pancreatic cancer

Visit our Research Search and Enroll Tool to find additional prevention and screening studies. 

Last updated June 20, 2021