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8
WHAT THE C?!? /// CHAPTER 6
Genetic and
Familial Risk
" Did I get my cancer because it runs in my family? "
" Are my other family members at risk for cancer because I have it? "
" Will my children have cancer because I do? "
While everyone's situation is different, it is
important to understand that cancer does not
pass from person to person in the same way
as a cold.
But a PREDISPOSITION or tendency towards
cancer can run in families. Every cell in your
body has the same chromosomes, which hold
encoded information passed down from your
two parents. The chromosomes are divided
into sections called genes, written in a code
of DNA. In some families, the genes have
changes that increase your chance of getting
cancer, by allowing more cancerous mutations
in your body's cells that don't get repaired.
The chances of you having such a genetic
predisposition can be hinted at by looking at
your family history of cancer. In addition, our
ability to search through your chromosomal
DNA for known predisposition variations is
getting better all the time.
Here are some tips on where to go for answers:
Start by talking to your Oncologist
They will be able to talk you through your risks for genetic/inherited cancer
risk. Many cancers are not linked to your family genetics, but in cases
where this is possible, your next step is to talk to a Genetic Counselor.
Genetic Counselors
They are members of the healthcare team that specialize in helping people
understand their genetic make-up and how this might affect their health.
During a visit, they will spend time talking to you about your family history
to look for clues about inherited cancer risk. After you talk, they will help
you decide if it is helpful to get genetic testing done for yourself or other
members of your family.
Genetic testing* is remarkably easy. Because the material looked at
is in every cell in your body, a swab of cells from your inner cheek or a
collection of saliva is all that's needed. Results of genetic testing can help
identify cancer predisposition syndromes. You and your family members
can use this information to figure out which cancers you are at highest risk
for so that you can make a plan for targeted cancer screening.
IMPORTANT
NOTE
*Genetic tests are not always covered by your insurance. Having a cancer predisposition
in your family cannot legally be used to keep you from getting health insurance or a job.
It CAN however, be used to keep you from getting life or disability insurance, so talk to
your genetic counselor and/or an insurance specialist before these tests are done.
https://fwaya.org/

What Do I Do Now?

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