I have a history of cancer but I don’t have any kids. Why should I be tested?
It’s important that your entire family is aware of genetic mutations that may increase the likelihood of certain cancers. If you do not have children of your own, your siblings, nieces, nephews, parents, cousins, etc. could be affected by a genetic mutation. Once identified, preventative measures can be taken to reduce the risk of cancer throughout the family.
There is cancer in my family but it’s only on my father’s side. Am I still at risk for hereditary cancer?
A genetic mutation can come from your mother or father, regardless of the type of cancer. When a parent, including your father, has a mutation, there is a 50% chance of passing that same mutation to his children.
Is all cancer hereditary?
The vast majority of cancers are caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. These are known as "sporadic cancers." Environmental factors such as tobacco use, exposure to certain chemicals, diet, physical activity, and sun exposure can greatly influence a person's risk of developing cancer. The overall percentage of people with cancer due to genetic mutations can vary widely depending on the type of cancer and the specific genetic mutations being considered. However, it's generally estimated that a relatively small proportion of cancers are directly caused by inherited genetic mutations.Estimates suggest that around 5-10% of all cancers are hereditary, meaning they are caused by inherited genetic mutations that increase the risk of developing cancer.
Will my health insurance cover genetic testing?
Many insurance carriers will cover the cost of genetic counseling and testing if there is a personal or family history of cancer. However, coverage varies on a case by case basis.
If my health insurance learns I have a genetic mutation, can they increase my deductibles or deny me coverage?
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) was signed into law on May 21, 2008. Under this law, health insurances cannot change or deny your coverage based on findings from genetic testing. However, GINA does not apply to the Tricare military health system, the Indian Health Service or employees of the federal government.
Should I be tested if I already have cancer?
Yes. KICK believes that knowledge is power and results of genetic counseling and testing can assist the medical team on determining the proper course of action to treat your cancer. In addition, knowing if there is a genetic component to your cancer is beneficial for all members of your family in taking measures to prevent cancer in the future.
Is it true that the Jewish population is at higher risk?
Yes. Gene mutations are more common in Jewish people of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) than in other people. For example, among Ashkenazi Jewish men and women, about 1 in 40 have a BRCA 1 or 2 mutation. Among women diagnosed with breast cancer at any age, approximately 1 in 50 have the BRCA 1 or 2, as compared with the Ashenazi Jewish population in which 1 in 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer at any age have the BRCA1 mutation. For males diagnosed with breast cancer, approximately 1 in 20 have the mutation in the general population, and 1 in 5 in the Ashkenazi Jewish population.
Is BRCA the only genetic mutation?
No. It is the most well known mutation, but there are many others that increase the risk for cancer. Each genetic mutation carries its own risk for different types of cancers.
If I am a man with a genetic mutation, do I really need to worry about cancer?
Yes. Having a genetic mutation elevates one’s cancer risk, independent of the person’s sex. While some hereditary cancer syndromes are more commonly associated with increased risks in women, such as breast and ovarian cancers, genetic mutations can also significantly impact cancer risk in men. This includes cancers such as prostate, colorectal, pancreatic, and many more.
Is genetic counseling necessary?
Yes. Genetic counselors are experts in their field and genetic counseling is highly recommended before and after genetic testing. They provide valuable guidance, help interpret results, and assist with decision-making.