What is Hereditary Cancer?

Cancer is more common in some families than others. Sometimes cancer is caused by a change in a gene, called a mutation. Cancer caused by a mutation passed down from a parent is called hereditary cancer. Talk with your healthcare provider if any of the statements below are true about you or someone in your family:

  • Have had cancer diagnosed under age 50
  • Have had two or more cancers diagnosed in the same person
  • Have had two or more family members (on the same side of the family) diagnosed with cancer
  • Have been diagnosed with a rare cancer
  • Have a family member with a gene mutation

Having a mutation does not mean you have cancer, only that you are at a higher risk for developing cancer. Knowing if you have a mutation allows you and your healthcare provider to take steps to reduce your chances of developing cancer. If you already have cancer, knowing if you have a hereditary cancer mutation allows your health care providers to make informed treatment decisions.