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Review national guidelines for cancer screening and prevention; this information is listed by gene mutation and by cancer type.

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Options for Detecting and Preventing Hereditary Cancers

People at high risk for cancer may have options for lowering their risk or increasing their screening to try to find cancer at an early, more treatable . Recommendations differ based on several factors, including:

  • gene mutation and risk for different types of cancer
  • age
  • gender
  • overall health
  • availability of effective screening or prevention options for different types of cancer
  • your personal preferences

Approaches to risk management

The medical approaches available for high-risk people to manage their risk include: 

  • Screening that uses tests to find cancer in its early stages, when it is most treatable. 
  • Medications or other interventions to lower the risk for cancer. 
  • Surgery to remove high-risk tissue before cancer can develop. This is referred to as "prophylactic" or "risk-reducing" surgery. 

Experts have developed screening and prevention guidelines for people with certain inherited gene mutations or cancer syndromes, which are different than guidelines for people at average risk for cancer. It's important to speak with an expert in cancer genetics to understand your personal risk for cancer and choose a risk-management plan that works for you. 

Our website has sections with information on risk management guidelines and options—including clinical trials—that are organized by: 

Guidelines are updated based on new research findings, and your preferences for risk management may change over time. It's important to check in periodically with your healthcare providers to discuss new information and update your risk-management plan accordingly.  

Last updated March 19, 2022