A Guide to Hereditary Cancer

Approximately 5 to 10 percent of cancer is linked to an inherited risk – also known as hereditary cancer – and about 30 percent of cancer cases occur in families with close relatives who have experienced similar cancers.

People with hereditary cancer in their family may have a higher lifetime cancer risk if they inherited the hereditary cause. Additionally, patients already diagnosed with cancer may have a higher risk for other new primary cancers if their cancer is hereditary.

Changing medical management can improve survival chances for people with a hereditary predisposition for cancer. Increased screening and surveillance, prophylactic surgeries, chemoprevention, or lifestyle choices can lead to early cancer detection or even prevent the development of cancer.

The following information, developed by certified genetic counselors at Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, is intended as a guide to hereditary breast and colon cancer. We encourage medical professionals to contact our team for additional information on cancer syndromes, genetic testing, patient care, referrals, and genetic counseling.