If cancer runs in your family, be sure to tell your doctor about this. The doctor will want to know what type of cancer each person had and at what age. Based on your medical history and your family history, genetic testing and counseling may be recommended.
There are certain genes that have been identified as increasing a person’s chance of having a particular kind of cancer.
Mutations in the BRCA 1 and/or BRCA 2 genes have been associated with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (HBOC) and an increase in male breast and prostate cancers. BRCA mutations have also been associated with melanoma and pancreatic cancer.
There are other genes that have been associated with Lynch Syndrome (Hereditary Non-polyposis Colorectal Cancer – HNPCC). These genes have been connected to some colorectal cancer, uterine and ovarian cancer and cancers of the stomach, small bowel, urinary tract, and biliary tract.
The following websites have some good basic information. When you read this information, here are definitions you might find helpful.
autosomal — means the gene can be inherited from other parent; it is not on the x or y chromosome.
dominant — It only takes 1 abnormal gene in a person’s inherited pair of genes to cause a potential problem.
recessive — If one abnormal gene is in a person’s inherited pair of genes, she/he should not have a problem. However, he/she is a carrier, meaning he/she could pass that gene on to offspring. It takes 2 abnormal genes (1 from each parent) in a person’s inherited pair of genes to cause a potential problem in her/him.
Genetics of Ovarian Cancer
http://www.ovariancancer.jhmi.edu/hereditary.cfm (little more technical)