Health Tip: Understanding Family Cancer Syndrome

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

(HealthDay News) -- Family cancer syndrome is caused by an abnormal gene that is passed down from the preceding generation.

Only about 5 percent to 10 percent of all cancers are thought to be caused by genetic mutations, the American Cancer Society says.

It may be difficult to determine if a cancer is caused by an inherited mutation. The ACS mentions these factors that indicate the possibility of family cancer syndrome:

  • Multiple cases in the same family of the same type of cancer (especially if the cancer is rare).
  • Cancer that occurs in family members who are younger than usual (such as colon cancerin a 20-year-old).
  • More than one type of cancer in the same person (such as a woman who has developed both breast and ovarian cancer).
  • Cancer that develops in both sets of the same organ (such as both eyes, both kidneys or both breasts).
  • More than one childhood cancer that develops in siblings (such as sarcoma in both a brother and a sister).
  • Cancer that develops in a gender that is not typically affected (such as breast cancer in a man).
  • Cancer that develops in multiple generations (such as a grandfather, father and son).

Last Updated: