Cancer can occur for a variety of reasons, but some people have a higher risk because they have inherited a genetic susceptibility to it. In such families, a faulty gene associated with cancer is passed down from one generation to the next.
Gastrointestinal tumors include cancers of the colon, stomach, pancreas, and esophagus. There may be an inherited tendency to develop these diseases if:
This clinical prediction algorithm was designed for healthcare professionals to estimate the cumulative and individual probabilities that an individual is an MLH1, MSH2, or MSH6 mutation carrier.
If you think that you have a high risk of developing a gastrointestinal cancer, the Dana-Farber Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program can help you create a personalized program to lower your risk.
It begins with a cancer risk evaluation, where you will meet with a genetic counselor and a doctor who specializes in cancers that can be inherited. They will talk with you about your family's history of cancer and what this means. Surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, and social workers are also available to talk with you and your family.
One goal of this evaluation is to help you learn what steps you can take to lower your risk of developing a gastrointestinal cancer.
If you are at risk for developing a gastrointestinal cancer, there are several ways for you to take control, including:
Any plan for lowering cancer risk must include cancer screening, which can help find cancer early or even prevent it entirely. The staff at the Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program can help you determine which types of cancer screenings are best for you, and how often you should have them.
Genetic testing is available and can be an important part of finding gene changes that could dramatically increase a person's risk of cancer. Knowing whether or not you carry a problem gene may influence how and when you and your family should have cancer screenings.
The Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program offers the opportunity to take part in clinical trials. These are studies that examine the best ways to prevent inherited gastrointestinal cancers and how to find these cancers early on, when treatment is most effective.
Learn about the gastrointestinal cancer studies currently underway at the Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program at Dana-Farber.
Read our Insight blog for information and inspiration about gastrointestinal cancer genetics at Dana-Farber.
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