Many people worry unnecessarily that their risk of getting cancer is above average because of their family history. In fact, only 5-10% of cancers are thought to be caused by an inherited faulty gene.
We hope the information in this section will help you understand the role of genes in the development of some cancers and answer some of your questions about cancer and genes.
We have divided the information into three areas:
Cancer genetics – detailed information about genes and cancer, and about genetic testing.
Risk-reducing breast surgery – for women who have discovered they have a significantly increased risk of developing breast cancer and are considering having surgery to reduce this.
OPERA – our online self-assessment tool if you are worried about your risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer. The tool asks you questions about your family history and provides you with a personal assessment.
You might like to watch our videos about genetic counselling and Wendy's story of genetic testing and her decision to have risk-reducing breast surgery.
You can order free leaflets from our Are you worried about... series, as well as our booklets Cancer genetics - how cancer sometimes runs in families and Understanding risk-reducing breast surgery from our be.Macmillan site.
If you are a health professional, you can find additional resources on cancer genetics (including policy documents and an online BMJ learning module) in our Health and Social Care Professionals section.