Health Tip: Understanding Family Cancer Syndrome

Family cancer syndrome is caused by an abnormal gene that is passed down from the preceding generation.

Only about 5 percent to 10 percent of all cancers are thought to be caused by genetic mutations, the American Cancer Society says.

It may be difficult to determine if a cancer is caused by an inherited mutation. The ACS mentions these factors that indicate the possibility of family cancer syndrome:

  • Multiple cases in the same family of the same type of cancer (especially if the cancer is rare).
  • Cancer that occurs in family members who are younger than usual (such ascolon cancerin a 20-year-old).
  • More than one type of cancer in the same person (such as a woman who has developed bothbreastandovarian cancer).
  • Cancer that develops in both sets of the same organ (such as botheyes, bothkidneys or both breasts).
  • More than onechildhood cancerthat develops in siblings (such as sarcoma in both a brother and a sister).
  • Cancer that develops in a gender that is not typically affected (such as breast cancer in a man).
  • Cancer that develops in multiple generations (such as a grandfather, father and son).

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