In some cases, hereditary or genetic factors may increase the risk of developing cancer. City of Hope’s Cancer Screening and Prevention Program is designed to help you understand more about your personal cancer risks.
We offer a comprehensive cancer risk assessment that focuses on family history and genetics, taking into account environmental and lifestyle factors. Following this assessment, the program provides concrete steps you can take to lower these risks. To get a comprehensive assessment call 626-218-8662.
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Cancer does not always strike randomly. Sometimes hereditary or genetic factors can increase your risk of developing cancer, and recent research indicates a link between genes and cancer.
This link tends to be strongest when:
- Cancer occurs at a much younger age than average
- Cancer occurs in several close relatives
- More than one type of cancer occurs in the same close relative
- Cancer occurs in paired organs (i.e. cancer in both breasts)
- Cancer occurs in more than one generation
- Several rare cancers occur in a family
While some common types of cancer, such as breast, ovarian, colorectal or prostate cancer, may or may not be inherited other types of cancer (usually much rarer) are almost always inherited, such as medullary thyroid cancer.
Genetic cancer risk assessment
Although an immediate family history may not suggest an obvious pattern of hereditary cancer, there can still be risk factors discoverable in an extended family history. Small families may have fewer cases of cancer, or generations may be "skipped" if the cancer expression is sex-limited (meaning a certain kind of cancer only appears in one sex, such as ovarian cancer or prostate cancer). Ethnic origin of your ancestors also may play a role in determining whether cancer could be hereditary.
Establishing a frame of reference
In order to determine the best course of action in assessing cancer risk, City of Hope develops a basic frame of reference. This involves obtaining an accurate family history regarding the occurrence of cancer(s) in you, your immediate and extended family – your children, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides. The type of cancer and the age of onset are extremely important in gathering this information.
Initial screening criteria for patients who should have genetic cancer risk
In the assessment, we look at the number of your relatives with cancer, the closeness of their biological relationship to you, and the specific types of cancer in your family. For more specific information on who should be referred for genetic cancer risk assessment, please see our guidelines.
Genetic testing is a powerful tool, and raises many important issues for individuals and their families.
- Ashkenazi Jewish Heritage - Two specific mutations in the BRCA1 gene and one mutation in the BRCA2 gene occur predominately in persons of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Having a BRCA mutation predisposes women to breast and ovarian cancer.
City of Hope’s renowned physicians and researchers utilize the latest in technology and innovation to treat cancer, coupled with our enduring belief in providing unparalleled compassionate care.
Ongoing research studies are a vital part of City of Hope's Cancer Screening and Prevention Program's commitment to combating cancer. We will inform you about available studies and eligibility to participate, which is entirely voluntary and will not affect your care in any way.
Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is the largest Jewish membership organization in the United States. Hadassah’s educational programs cover concerns relating to the science of genetics, counseling/psychosocial issues, discrimination and ethics from a Jewish perspective.
The American Jewish Congress - The Congress’ Commission for Women's Equality supports federal and state legislative campaigns to protect genetic privacy and prohibit genetic discrimination in insurance and employment.
Sharsheret - Sharsheret is a national not-for-profit organization supporting young Jewish women and their families facing breast cancer. Our mission is to offer a community of support to women, of all Jewish backgrounds, diagnosed with breast cancer or at increased genetic risk, by fostering culturally-relevant individualized connections with networks of peers, health professionals, and related resources.