Does Cancer Run in Your Family?

Does it seem like a lot of your family have had cancer? Is there a pattern of successive generations having similar forms of it? Maybe you have had cancer yourself and felt as if you were relatively young in comparison to the rest of the patients? If so your family may have a hereditary cancer syndrome. There are several of these - inherent in the DNA you were born with - that could predispose you to a greater chance of having a cancer during your lifetime than the general population.

Lynch Syndrome is only one of these (there are multiple others) but each will produce a differing pattern of cancers. The more common cancers that may have a hereditary element are:

Colon (large bowel), rectal (anal), endometrial (womb), ovarian, breast, stomach, bladder, kidney, pancreatic, prostrate, small bowel, stomach.

There is a general rule of 3 people affected across 2 generations with 1 under the age of 50.

They all have to be the same bloodline so a husband and wife do not count together, for instance, and all 1st or 2nd degree relatives so father, mother, brother, sister, grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousin. They do not have to have had the same cancer either, though typically some will appear repeatedly. If this could describe your family then talk to your GP and ask about possibly being referred to a genetics department to have your family tree assessed. If your family does carry a hereditary risk factor then advice can be given and screening provided to reduce your risk of having cancer or being diagnosed late.

With hereditary cancer - KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

So remember the 3-2-1 rule - 3 people, 2 generations, 1 under 50 and get checked.

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