Researchers have not yet discovered all the genes that, if mutated, cause this type of hereditary cancer but they have discovered many. If you do not qualify for government insured genetic testing, it is important to choose a consumer pay service that uses a full gene panel and includes qualified genetic counselling to interpret the results. If you have previously returned a negative result, you may want to consider being re-tested with a newer gene panel.
Lifestyle changes in the form of reducing exposure to toxins, incorporating a healthy diet and participating in regular exercise have been well proven to reduce the incidence of cancer. If you carry a gene mutation that increases your risk of cancer it makes even more sense to reduce cancer triggers and make sure your body is running at optimal level.
Cancer screening will not actually reduce your risk of cancer. The goal is to find a cancer as early as possible, when treatment is likely to be most effective. Early-age screening for female risky gene carriers typically begins at the age of 25 and for male carriers at the age of 40 but recommendations can vary by health region.
Chemoprevention and surgical cancer risk reduction options are available for risky gene carriers who are at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer. This also includes male carriers who may be interested in pursuing surgical intervention for hereditary breast cancer but to date there are no recommended prevention interventions for hereditary prostate or other types of cancer.
Chemoprevention, preventative and cancer surgeries all come with side-effects and a risk of complications.
Hereditary cancer treatments and chemoprevention drugs are often used to reduce estrogen in the body, which causes menopause in younger women that may or may not be reversible. Surgical intervention for an active ovarian cancer or to prevent it causes irreversible menopause. In some cases, a woman's eggs can be retrieved prior to treatment or surgery and frozen for later use. Learn more
Early menopause causes a wide range of possible side effects. In some cases, symptoms can be eased with the use of hormone replacement therapy. Learn more
As a risky gene carrier, fear for loved ones and oneself can be overwhelming. Many risky carriers grew up experiencing multiple family member losses. Due to the nature of hereditary cancer, young mothers are hardest hit, devastating families and far too often leaving young children motherless. We know the decision to submit to genetic testing is frightening, and in the case of a positive result there is often a long and arduous journey through screening and/or cancer risk reduction options. We also know the lack of awareness about risky genes means there is not always support from those around carriers for the tough choices they face. We also know that far too many carriers don't escape a hereditary cancer diagnosis and the extreme trauma that goes along with it.
Hereditary cancer is more aggressive than spontaneous cancer so can be harder to treat. Until recently, no specialized chemotherapy treatments were available for risky gene carriers. Thankfully, a new class of drugs called PARP inhibitors were discovered that have a more positive effect on certain BRCA mutation-driven cancers than on the same type of spontaneous cancer.
NOTE: This type of hereditary cancer has changed considerably since discovery, from one type of cancer caused by mutations in only one gene to several types of cancer caused by mutations in any of many different genes. We are in the process of changing our organization name and resources to reflect the fully inclusive RISKY GENES™ brand, so please be understanding when in the meantime, you are directed to the old HBOC (hereditary breast and ovarian cancer) website through some of the links found on this website.
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