Previvor: Definition & Support

Previvors are people living with an increased risk for cancer. Previvors have unique information and support needs that are different from cancer survivors and people in treatment.

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What is a Previvor?

The meaning of the word "previvor" is a "survivor of a predisposition to cancer." Previvors are people living with an inherited mutation who have never been diagnosed with cancer.

The term includes people with an inherited mutation, a family history of cancer, or some other factor that increases their risk for cancer.

Previvors have medical options to manage their cancer risks. These include:

  • enhanced screening to find cancer early and at its most treatable stage.
  • medications, lifestyle changes and other approaches to lowering cancer risk.
  • surgery to remove organs at high risk before cancer develops.
  • clinical research studies that are testing new ways to manage risk.

Genes linked to hereditary cancer risk

Check out our list of genes to learn more about the risks and recommendations for previvors in each selected gene.

Cancer risks and management guidelines vary by gene, therefore, it's important to know which mutation you have. A genetics expert can help you understand more about your gene mutation.

What's behind the definition of previvor?

FORCE coined the term in 2000 in response to a challenge by a FORCE member who posted, "I need a label!" 

Prior to our coining the term, the medical community referred to previvors as "unaffected carriers," a designation many people found dismissive. The term previvor unites a community of important stakeholders to advocate for more research, resources and policy protections. 

Image of a magazine with the definition of the word "previvor"
In 2007, Time Magazine chose the FORCE-coined word "previvor" as a top "buzzword of the year." 


More Previvor Resources

Get Support

Speak with other previvors who share your gene mutation and situation.  

More info

Enroll in Prevention Research

Search for detection and prevention studies enrolling previvors. 

More info

When is Previvor Day?

Previvor Day is the last Wednesday of September or the first Wednesday of October. 

More info

Read Previvor Stories

I am Because My Mom Was

by Maggie Wickman Growing up, the BRCA1 mutation was always talked about in my house. I knew about it from a very early age, and I saw my mom endure preventive surgeries way before I knew the significance of how it would affect me one...

PreCharge: Help Test a New Digital Program for Previvors

by Madison Gilmore In the ebb and flow of life, we all encounter waves—waves of stress, waves of change, waves of challenge and waves of adversity. For those affected by hereditary cancer, these waves often take the form of frequent cancer...

Reverse the Curse

by Sheila Adams Gardner I have long suspected that genetics were behind the half-dozen cancer-related deaths in my family. Nevertheless, I was shocked when my genetic test results revealed that I carry a wayward gene that puts me at high risk for...

Exploring Attitudes Toward Dating BRCA Positive Previvors

Results from a Nationwide Survey by Kalisi Logan Beyond health risks and other issues, previvors have voiced specific concerns and difficulties about dating. Many previvors report that having a male or female partner who is understanding of...

Last updated May 06, 2024