Cancers such as bowel cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, melanoma (skin cancer), ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, retinoblastoma (eye cancer), thyroid cancer and womb cancer are hereditary cancers.
Hereditary cancers are cancers associated with a certain inherited gene fault, such as BRCA1 or BRCA 2, that overall presents an increased chance of developing cancer.
People with close family relatives that have had cancer are recommended to undergo a genetic cancer screening, to test if there is an inherited cancer gene. Being aware of a possible gene mutation and a potentially higher risk of developing cancer helps the individual to take better cancer prevention steps and allows the oncologist to make an informed schedule for regular and cancer-specific screenings.
Even though there are cases where cancer appears to “run in the family”, it is important to note that a positive result of a hereditary cancer screening test does not mean that one would necessarily develop cancer, neither does a negative result mean that a person is immune to cancer.