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Different gene mutations can cause different types of cancer. Read more about signs of other types of hereditary cancer here. I need to learn more about genetic testing for hereditary cancer. I have a mutation and cancer.

Family Cancer Syndromes

What do I do? I have a mutation but do not have cancer. I want to participate in research. Donate Fundraise Volunteer Empower. No one should face hereditary cancer alone.

Learn about genes and cancer, signs of hereditary cancer, genetic counseling, types of genetic tests and what results mean for you and your family. Overview What is hereditary cancer? Hereditary vs. How does cancer develop?

Hereditary Cancer Syndromes

How is hereditary cancer different than other cancer? What are the signs of hereditary cancers? Follow Us:. Family history should be considered; however, many women without a family history may still have a gene mutation associated with risk for ovarian cancer. All women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, primary peritoneal or fallopian tube cancer should be referred for genetic counseling and consideration of genetic testing.

Understanding hereditary cancer – a brief history

Women who have had cancer of the breast, uterus, colon or rectum have a higher risk of ovarian cancer. Having endometriosis increases the risk of clear cell and endometrioid ovarian cancers fold. All women are at risk of developing ovarian cancer regardless of age; however ovarian cancer rates are highest in women aged years.

The median age at which women are diagnosed is 63, meaning that half of women are younger than 63 when diagnosed with ovarian cancer and half are older. A woman is at an increased risk if she:. Doctors may prescribe hormone replacement therapy to alleviate symptoms associated with menopause hot flashes, night sweats, sleeplessness, vaginal dryness that occur as the body adjusts to decreased levels of estrogen. Hormone replacement therapy usually involves treatment with either estrogen alone for women who have had a hysterectomy or a combination of estrogen with progesterone or progestin for women who have not had a hysterectomy.

Women who use menopausal hormone therapy are at an increased risk for ovarian cancer. Recent studies indicate that using a combination of estrogen and progestin for five or more years significantly increases the risk of ovarian cancer in women who have not had a hysterectomy. Ten or more years of estrogen use increases the risk of ovarian cancer in women who have had a hysterectomy.

Various studies have found a link between obesity and ovarian cancer. A study found that obesity was associated with an almost 80 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer in women 50 to 71 who had not taken hormones after menopause. All women are at risk because ovarian cancer does not strike only one ethnic or age group.

A health care professional can help a woman identify ways to reduce her risk as well as decide if consultation with a genetic counselor is appropriate. The use of oral contraceptives birth control pills decreases the risk of developing ovarian cancer, especially when used for several years.

Hereditary Breast Cancer: The Era of New Susceptibility Genes

Women who use oral contraceptives for five or more years have about a 50 percent lower risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who have never used oral contraceptives. Pregnancy and breastfeeding are linked with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, likely because women ovulate less frequently when pregnant or breastfeeding. Multiple pregnancies or having first full-term pregnancy before the age of 26 decreases risk.

Women can greatly reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by removing their ovaries and fallopian tubes, a procedure known as prophylactic bilateral salpingo oophorectomy. Primary peritoneal cancer, which is microscopically almost identical to ovarian cancer, can still occur, but is infrequent.


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There are risks associated with removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes; women should speak to their doctors about whether this procedure is appropriate for them. Having a hysterectomy, or removal of the uterus while leaving the ovaries, may decrease the risk of ovarian cancer by 33 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.