Other types of cancer with a possible inherited risk
There are some rare hereditary conditions that are associated with an increased risk of less common types of cancer.
These conditions include:
von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL), which causes an increased risk of cysts or tumours in the brain and spinal cord, eyes and ears, kidneys, adrenal glands and pancreas
multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2), which causes a susceptibility to a rare type of thyroid cancer (medullary) and to cancers of the adrenal glands
Li-Fraumeni syndrome, which causes a susceptibility to several cancers, including breast cancers, sarcomas, brain tumours and leukaemias. Affected families often have several people in the family affected at a young age (children, adolescents or young adults).
If you, or a member of your family, are affected by a rare genetic condition, you may want to get in touch with Genetic Alliance UK for information and support.
Our cancer support specialists can give you more information about rare genetic conditions.
Scientists and doctors also believe that genetic factors may be involved in causing a susceptibility to testicular, pancreatic, prostate, stomach and kidney cancer in a small number of people. If some of these cancers occur together in a family with bowel cancer, they may be connected to Lynch syndrome.
BRCA1 and BRCA2, the breast cancer genes, have been linked to cases of prostate and pancreatic cancer in some families. But Lynch syndrome, BRCA1 and BRCA2 don’t account for all the cases where one of the above cancers occurs in a number of family members. So it’s likely that there are other genes that are responsible for the situations where two or more members of the same family get the same type of cancer. Researchers are working to identify these genes.
It’s highly unlikely that one case of testicular, pancreatic, prostate, stomach or kidney cancer significantly increases other family members’ risk of developing the same cancer. We can only assume that an inherited gene may be involved if at least two relatives on the same side of the family develop the same type of cancer.
There may be screening available for some of these other cancers. If you’re worried about a lot of cases of these (or other) cancers in your family, you should talk to your GP. If there’s the possibility of a genetic factor playing a role in your family, you may be able to take part in a research study. You will also be told what symptoms to look out for to identify cancer, if it occurs, as early as possible.