Familial Cancer Program
Focus on Familial Cancer
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The issues surrounding inherited risk and genetic testing are complicated. The Familial Cancer Program is staffed by a multidisciplinary team committed to providing the best possible information and assistance to individuals and their families. Our locations include Lebanon and Manchester, Nashua, NH, and St. Johnsbury, VT.
Should you consider genetic counseling?
- Have several members of your family been affected by cancer?
- Has cancer occurred at an unusually young age in your family?
- Has someone in your family had multiple cancers?
- Are there unusual types of cancer in your family?
If your answer to any of these questions is "yes," you may wish to consider cancer risk assessment counseling. Cancer survivors who are concerned that they have inherited an increased risk of cancer may also benefit from counseling regarding their risk of a second cancer.
Why are some families more affected by cancer?
Some people have an increased risk of developing cancer because they inherit certain genes from their parents. Genes are the instructions that help the body function properly. Tumor suppressor genes work to keep cancer from developing. A change in a tumor suppressor gene can interfere with its normal function, and increase the chance of certain cancers. When many members of a family are diagnosed with cancer, especially at young ages, the cause may be an altered tumor suppressor gene that has been inherited. Most cancers, however, are not inherited. Most cancers occur by chance or are caused by exposure to cancer-causing material, such as tobacco smoke. Also, some types of cancer are common. Just because someone in your family has had cancer does not necessarily mean you or another family member will inherit cancer.
Shirley, a breast cancer survivor, shares her experience after a routine mammogram revealed a tumor in her breast that was the size of a grain of sand. She and Cancer Center oncology nurse Laura Urquhart also discuss inherited risk of cancer and genetic testing and counseling. Listen to Shirley's story.