Everyone has some risk of developing cancer. Some people are genetically predisposed to developing certain types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, colorectal and prostate cancer.
Cancer is usually caused by randomly occurring gene mutations that arise as we age or when a cell’s DNA has been damaged. Other mutations are found in just some of the body’s cells, and are not passed from parent to child.
In a small percentage of those with cancer, the disease is caused by what’s called a hereditary mutation, inherited by one or both of the person’s parents and present in almost every cell in the body. While people who have hereditary mutations may not develop cancer, their risk for the disease is higher than average.
Specific guidelines have been established by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network to help identify people who are candidates for genetic testing. Your healthcare provider can explain if you are a candidate for the test; results help determine options for cancer screening and prevention.