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Is Cancer Risk in Your Family Tree?

Actress Angelina Jolie on
the cover of Hollywood Reporter
following her double masectomy.

If your family has a history of cancer you may have a higher risk of getting cancer, but don't panic. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are about 1,000,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed every year. Only 5 to 10 percent of these are linked to a family history.

So if genetics may increase your chances of getting cancer, a healthy diet and exercise along with informed choices about tobacco and alcohol use can help to lower the risk. A hereditary predisposition to cancer does not mean that you are going to get cancer.

Genetic Risk Factors

Making headline medical news in 2013, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie had both breasts removed in a double masectomy following tests for the "breast cancer gene", BRCA.

Although Jolie's mother had succumbed to breast cancer, Jolie's decision sparked controversy as thousands of low-risk women began to consider the radical procedure to avoid any chance of developing the disease.

Panic became widespread and hospitals were overwhelmed with requests, but the good news? More women were being genetically tested for the disease than ever before.

If you are concerned about the risk in your family for breast cancer or any other type of cancer, speak to your doctor.

Some factors that may indicate that there is a hereditary link are

  • Cancer that strikes bilaterally, such as in both breasts or at two different locations in one organ.
  • Two or more members of one generation who have the same type of cancer.
  • Particular tumor site combinations seen within one family, especially breast and ovary, or colon and uterus.

If your doctor agrees that there may be a genetic component to cancer in your family you may want to explore genetic testing. You will definitely want to take a look at what you are eating and the amount of exercise you do. Both diet and weight are linked to increased risk for cancer.

also see ->
Myths & Scare, or Real Risks?

Elsewhere on the Web:

Breast Cancer Risk Factors: Genetics -

Breast Cancer - Family History




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