Causes and risk factors

Genetic conditions and inherited cancers

You might be offered the chance to test for some genetic conditions. It's important to understand what might happen and the effect any possible results might have.

  • Inherited cancers

    If a cancer occurs more often in a family than in the general population, some people in the family may have inherited a cancer susceptibility gene.

  • Inherited cancers: bowel cancer

    A small number of bowel cancer cases are linked to genetic conditions, which run in families.

  • Inherited cancers: breast cancer

    Breast cancer can sometimes be linked to altered genes, which can run in families.

  • Inherited cancers: ovarian cancer

    Some cases of ovarian cancer are linked to altered genes, which can run in families.

  • Inherited cancers: prostate cancer

    Some cases of prostate cancer are linked to certain inherited cancer genes, which can run in families. There are other risks, some of which can be reduced.

  • Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)

    Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is a condition that can run in families. If not treated, FAP can increase the risk of getting bowel cancer.

  • Lynch syndrome

    Lynch syndrome (LS) is a condition that can run in families. It increases the risk of developing some cancers.

  • If you are referred to a genetics specialist

    The genetics specialists will ask you questions about your family to help them work out if there is an increased risk of cancer in your family.

  • Genetic counselling

    A genetic consultation is a discussion with a person trained in genetics. They will advise you on your risk of developing cancer.

  • Things to consider before having a genetic test

    There are several things to consider before having a genetic test, including how you might feel if you do have a cancer gene.

  • Genetic testing

    You will only be offered genetic testing if your family history suggests you may have inherited a cancer gene.

  • Having a high risk of cancer

    Knowing you have an increased risk of cancer can be difficult. There are options for managing the risk and getting support.