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Who Should Consider Testing?

Learn about genes and cancer, signs of hereditary cancer, genetic counseling, types of genetic tests and what results mean for you and your family.

Genetic testing for families with rare or young-onset cancers or multiple cases of cancer

Some cancers are more likely to be hereditary than others. These include certain young-onset, rare or aggressive cancers. Instances of cancer in multiple relatives on the same side of a family may also indicate that the cancers are hereditary. Signs of an inherited mutation include:

If you or a relative have had any of the following:

  • ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer
  • breast cancer at age 50 or younger
  • two separate breast cancers
  • an aggressive type of breast cancer called “triple negative breast cancer”
  • male breast cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
  • prostate cancer at age 55 or younger or metastatic prostate cancer (cancer that spread outside the prostate)
  • Eastern European Jewish ancestry and any of the above cancers at any age

Or, if more than one family member on the same side of your family has had:

  • breast cancer
  • ovarian, fallopian tube, primary peritoneal cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • pancreatic cancer  

People from families with these cancers may be at increased risk for cancer and may benefit from speaking with a genetics expert about genetic testing. 

Benefits of genetic counseling and testing

Genetic counseling and testing may provide you and your family with additional health information and help you make medical decisions. 

  • Positive genetic test results can help you understand your cancer risk and take actions to stay healthy.

  • Genetic counseling can help you and your family members understand your cancer risk and options, even if no mutation is found.

Additional support and resources

If you come from a family with any of the above cancers, you may be considering genetic testing. Making decisions about genetic testing can be complex and you may want additional guidance or support. FORCE's Peer Navigation Program provides expert reviewed resources and 1:1 personalized peer support by specially trained volunteers who have experienced the very challenges you face.

Updated 08/11/2017

FORCE:Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered