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While all cancers are caused by the disruption of genes, we know that approximately 5 to 10% of cancers are related to specific inherited genetic abnormalities.
There are scientific methods to identify some of these inherited defects and show whether some people have an increased chance of developing certain types of cancer. These cancers happen more often in some families than in others.
There are tests available that can identify if you are at increased risk. Let your healthcare provider know if any of your close relatives (parents, brothers, sisters and children) have ever been diagnosed with cancer. Genetic testing should always be carried out at a clinic that also provides supportive counselling and education. Some people may decide not to take genetic testing when they understand the implications to their personal situation.
The fact that 1 or 2 family members have been diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean that you will also develop cancer. This is especially true if the family member is not a first-degree relative or if the cancers are of different types. It is important to discuss screening with your doctor if you have a family history of cancer.
We realize that our efforts cannot even be compared to what women face when they hear the words ... ‘you have cancer.’
Access to services in your community
The Canadian Cancer Society’s Community Services Locator helps cancer patients and their families find the services and programs they need in their community.