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Cancer Genetics

Genetic Predisposition to Sarcoma

12/08/2008

Question:

I was diagnosed with a malignant phyllodes breast tumor (intermediate grade, 5 cm) 8 years ago. I had a low grade liposarcoma removed 3 years ago. I was told that sarcomas can morph, and now I have to get even more frequent screening tests. My question is this- I am adopted, and was told my mother was not sure who my father was. The man she was married to died from a malignant liposarcoma. To me,the answer is pretty obvious. I mean, what are the chances two people, in the same "family", more or less, whom were thought to be unrelated, could BOTH have such a rare cancer? Are there genetic markers/tests which show sarcomas to be hereditary?

Answer:

Liposarcomas are occasionally seen in some of the hereditary cancer susceptibility syndromes, but it is not clear whether the clustering in your family truly represents any of these cancer syndromes. You would be able to get a better idea if you met with a genetic counselor and had a thorough evaluation. Testing might be an option to help figure this out. You can locate a genetic counselor by going to the website for the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

As for your question about whether having the same cancer is enough to establish your mother's husband as your biological father, it is possible but it could also be two completely random events.

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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