Hereditary Cancer and Genetic Testing

Signs of an inherited mutation linked to cancer risk 

If you or a relative have been diagnosed with cancer, it may due to an inherited mutation. Signs of an inherited mutation or hereditary cancer include the following:

You have a blood relative who has tested positive for an inherited gene mutation linked to cancer.


OR

You or any of your family members have had:

  • Pancreatic, ovarian, fallopian tube, primary peritoneal or male breast cancer at any age.
  • Breast, colorectal or endometrial cancer at age 50 or younger.
  • Two separate cancer diagnoses.
  • A type of breast cancer called “triple-negative breast cancer” at age 60 or younger.
  • Prostate cancer at age 55 or younger or metastatic prostate cancer.
  • Colorectal cancer at any age with tumor testing that shows microsatellite instability (MSI-High) or other tumor test results that are suggestive of Lynch syndrome.
  • Endometrial cancer at any age with tumor testing that shows microsatellite instability (MSI-High) or other tumor test results that are suggestive of Lynch syndrome.
  • More than 10 colon polyps.
  • Rare or young-onset cancers.
  • Tumor testing that shows a mutation in a gene associated with hereditary cancer.
  • Eastern European Jewish ancestry and breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer at any age.


OR

More than one family member on the same side of your family has had a combination of the following cancers:

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Rare or young-onset cancers

 

This list is not comprehensive; other cancers may be hereditary too. If you would like to learn if the cancer in your family is hereditary, it is important to consult with a genetics expert.

key-facts
  • Both men and women can carry an inherited mutation linked to cancer. 
  • You don't need a large family history of cancer to have an inherited mutation linked to cancer. There are situations where a single case of cancer in a family is enough to prompt a referral to an expert known as a genetic counselor. Visit our section on Testing Guidelines for information on genetic testing listed by cancer type. 
Last updated June 30, 2020