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Cancer Genetics

Medullary Carcinoma Genetics



I was looking for some information for my brother who was diagnosed with medullary carcinoma. His doctor said it was hereiditary? I would like to know about this.


You don't specifically state what organ the cancer was found in, so I am assuming your brother had medullary thyroid cancer.  About 25% of people who develop medullary thyroid cancer are found to have developed cancer as the result of having a mutation, or genetic mistake, that caused them to have a high risk of developing medullary thyroid cancer.  In order to determine whether your brother's cancer is actually a hereditary form, he should see a genetic counselor or a medical geneticist for to discuss whether or not genetic testing will be useful for him.  This will also help other members of the family learn about whether they might also have a high chance of developing cancer.

As part of a genetic evaluation, your brother will probably meet first with a genetic counselor who will draw his family tree, and try to obtain records on your brother's cancer diagnosis.  This will give the genetic counselor a better idea about what kind of testing might be appropriate, and who else in the family might have an increased risk to develop cancer.  In some situations, genetic testing is not available, or may not be covered by insurance, but the genetic counselor can discuss appropriate screening for members of the family.

In order to find a genetic counselor near where you live, you can either talk with your primary care physician, or you can also find a local genetic counselor by going to the website for the National Society of Genetic Counselors.  The website is given below.  Find the button for "find a genetic counselor" and follow the instructions.

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Response by:

Duane D Culler, PhD, MS Duane D Culler, PhD, MS
Clinical Instructor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University