You may want to tell your GP if:
- two or more blood relatives on the same side of your family have developed the same type of cancer at a fairly young age (under 50)
- certain pairs of cancers run together in your family, such as bowel and womb cancer, or breast and ovarian cancer
- you have a relative who developed breast, ovarian, bowel or womb cancer at a younger age than usual.
If your GP thinks there may be an increased risk of cancer in your family, they will refer you to a genetic counsellor or a cancer specialist. This could be in a family cancer clinic or a cancer genetics clinic.
You could try to speak directly to a specialist at your nearest family cancer clinic or genetics clinic. However, specialists usually prefer to see people who have been referred by their GP. You can find a list of all genetic centres in the NHS on the British Society for Human Genetics website.
Your GP, genetic counsellor or consultant will use a number of criteria in your family history to assess whether there may be an inherited cancer susceptibility gene in your family.
If you’re worried that breast and/or ovarian cancer may run in your family, our online tool OPERA can give you personalised information about your risk, which you might want to take to your doctor to discuss.
OPERA is based on guidance on familial breast cancer from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). OPERA isn’t intended to replace professional genetic counselling services, so if you’re concerned about your genetic risk you should still consult your doctor.