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Cancer Genetics

Cancer Genetics Overview

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and affects as many as 1.5 million Americans each year1. Roughly one out of every 20 cases of cancer is caused by an inherited tendency to develop cancer from genetic changes that can be passed down from parent to child. While inherited forms of cancer have been recognized for many years, the gene changes that cause them have only been found more recently. Depending on the family history, doctors can offer a blood test to find out if a person has such a change.

Genetic counseling is what ties all the information together. Genetic counselors help families work through decisions about whether to have testing and can explore the issues that surround genetic testing, and offer support throughout the testing process.

1 American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures, 2011.

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Last Reviewed: Jun 22, 2011

Clinical Instructor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University