Although today’s innovations and available options help us see and treat cancer differently, this condition remains a challenge for both physicians and patients.
Such a diagnosis cannot be completely prevented, despite any efforts we make to improve our lifestyle. Beyond nutrition, sports, giving up vices and reducing stress, there is also the hereditary genetic factor, that aspect that we cannot influence. But we have genetic testing at hand that can tell us if our genes are alert to a predisposition for one or more types of cancer.
There are a few factors that may indicate the need for such a genetic test. The result can confirm or disprove your predisposition for one of the most common types of cancer characterized by a strong hereditary genetic component, such as breast, ovarian, colorectal, uterine, gastric, pancreatic, prostate, malignant melanoma.
Factors related to personal medical history
Diagnosis of breast cancer
Specialists have, over time, determined a number of genes that are involved in triggering several types of hereditary cancer, through similar mechanisms. Therefore, the degree of risk is indicated by an existing or past diagnosis. One such example is breast cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two genes involved in the diagnosis of hereditary breast cancer, as well as ovarian cancer.
If you have had breast cancer, regardless of its type and the age at which you were diagnosed, you should consider the additional risk of ovarian, uterine, pancreatic or other hereditary cancers. Talk to your doctor about these possibilities and the solutions offered by genetic testing.
Diagnosis of ovarian cancer
Similar to breast cancer, ovarian cancer can have mutations in some genes found in patients with other locations. For example, TP53 and STK11 genes are common in patients with hereditary breast, ovarian, uterine, gastric or colorectal cancer.
Metastatic prostate cancer
BRCA1, BRCA2, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS2, EPCAM are several genes whose mutations are associated with specialists with prostate cancer, but at the same time may occur in patients with gastric, colorectal, malignant, ovarian and breast cancers. .
Diagnosis of pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer has an important genetic component and is one of the most serious forms of this condition. Together with the oncologist, discuss the risks of being diagnosed with cancer in another area of the body, depending on the genetic mutations present.
Colorectal or uterine cancer diagnosed under 65 years of age
Last but not least, when it comes to personal medical history, colorectal or cervical / uterine cancer are viewed by clinicians as diagnoses that may return to the patient’s body with other locations. The importance in this case is age: people diagnosed at the age of 65 represent a special category of risk.
Factors related to family cancer history
Breast cancer diagnosed under the age of 50
Breast cancer is mainly diagnosed in women over 50, so a diagnosis before this age should raise suspicion of a hereditary genetic component, especially if the person who has suffered from this condition is a 1st degree relative: parents, brothers or sisters.
It is a common situation nowadays that a woman who has had relatives with breast cancer, especially the mother, should resort to mastectomy while she is still healthy, because the tests indicate the presence of the same genetic abnormalities, thus an increased risk of receiving the same diagnosis.
Two breast cancer diagnoses in the same family member
Not only are breast cancer cases important, but also if they have recurred. If in your family there have been people who have had breast cancer at least twice, throughout your life, there is an additional risk to you.
Three or more cases of breast cancer in members of the same branch of the family
Another alarm signal can be pulled by a family history that shows several breast cancer cases in the same family – for example, if your grandmother or aunt received this diagnosis.
Colorectal or uterine cancer below 50 years
If someone in your family, younger than 50, has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, or in women with cervical cancer, you should consider genetic testing and routine investigations to detect any early changes.
Ovarian, metastatic prostate, pancreatic or breast cancer in a man
It is important to know the medical history of your family, because there are types of illnesses that you might not normally consider. An example is breast cancer diagnosed in a man, a rare case, but not impossible. It also matters whether or not a specific type of cancer has metastasized, such as prostate cancer.
The list includes ovarian cancer, regardless of age, and pancreatic cancer.
A genetic mutation
An aspect often looked after by physicians, and easy to identify only with the help of state-of-the-art genetic testing, is the presence of a hereditary genetic abnormality, especially on one of those genes most commonly involved in cancer diagnoses with an important hereditary component.
If such a hereditary genetic mutation exists, all blood relatives in that family, especially the first-degree relatives of that person, should consider regular controls and other preventive measures.