Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Cancer Genetics Risk Assessment and Counseling (PDQ®): Genetics - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Introduction

    Many of the medical and scientific terms used in this summary are found in the NCI Dictionary of Genetics Terms. When a linked term is clicked, the definition will appear in a separate window.

    This summary describes current approaches to assessing and counseling people about their chance of having an inherited susceptibility to cancer. Genetic counseling is defined by the National Society of Genetic Counselors as the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological, and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. Several reviews present overviews of the cancer risk assessment, counseling, and genetic testing process.[1,2,3,4]

    Recommended Related to Cancer

    Overview

    Coenzyme Q10 (commonly known as CoQ10) is a compound that is made naturally in the body. The body uses it for cell growth and to protect cells from damage that could lead to cancer (see Question 1). Animal studies have shown that CoQ10 helps the immune system work better and makes the body better able to resist certain infections and types of cancer (see Question 5). Clinical trials have shown that CoQ10 helps protect the heart from the damaging side effects of doxorubicin, a drug...

    Read the Overview article > >

    Individuals are considered to be candidates for cancer risk assessment if they have a personal and/or family history (maternal or paternal lineage) with features suggestive of hereditary cancer.[5] These features vary by type of cancer and specific hereditary syndrome. Criteria have been published to help identify families who may benefit from a referral to genetic counseling.[2,6] The PDQ cancer genetics information summaries on breast, ovarian, colorectal, prostate, and skin cancers and endocrine and neuroendocrine neoplasias describe the clinical features of hereditary syndromes associated with these conditions.

    The following are features that suggest hereditary cancer:

    • Unusually early age of cancer onset (e.g., premenopausal breast cancer).
    • Multiple primary cancers in a single individual (e.g., colorectal and endometrial cancer).
    • Bilateral cancer in paired organs or multifocal disease (e.g., bilateral breast cancer or multifocal renal cancer).
    • Clustering of the same type of cancer in close relatives (e.g., mother, daughter, and sisters with breast cancer).
    • Cancers occurring in multiple generations of a family (i.e., autosomal dominant inheritance).
    • Occurrence of rare tumors (e.g., retinoblastoma, adrenocortical carcinoma, granulosa cell tumor of the ovary, ocular melanoma, or duodenal cancer).
    • Unusual presentation of cancer (e.g., male breast cancer).
    • Uncommon tumor histology (e.g., medullary thyroid carcinoma).
    • Rare cancers associated with birth defects (e.g., Wilms tumor and genitourinary abnormalities).
    • Geographic or ethnic populations known to be at high risk of hereditary cancers. Genetic testing candidates may be identified based solely on ethnicity when a strong founder effect is present in a given population (e.g., Ashkenazi heritage and BRCA1/BRCA2mutations).[7,8]
    1 | 2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
     
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Real Cancer Perspectives
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article