Other inherited conditions that can increase cancer risk

There are some rare inherited conditions that increase the risk of cancer. If you have one of these conditions, ask your specialist whether you need to have regular monitoring to check for anything abnormal.

What are inherited conditions that increase the risk of cancer?

There are some rare inherited conditions that can increase the risk of some types of cancer. These conditions are caused by a change in a gene that can be passed from parent to child (inherited). A change in a gene is called a gene variant or mutation. Different gene variants cause different conditions.

If you or a family member has a rare inherited condition, you may find it helpful to contact Genetic Alliance UK for information and support.

Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer

People with hereditary diffuse gastric cancer have a high risk of developing diffuse stomach cancer and lobular breast cancer.

Familial atypical multiple mole melanoma (FAMMM)

FAMMM increases the risk of a type of skin cancer called melanoma. It may also increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL)

VHL increases the risk of cysts or tumours in the:

  • brain and spinal cord
  • eyes
  • kidneys
  • adrenal glands
  • pancreas
  • ears.

Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) syndromes

MEN syndromes are linked to non-cancerous (benign) growths and cancer in different endocrine glands. MEN1 and MEN2 are very different conditions. We have more information about the MEN1 and MEN2 syndromes.

Li-Fraumeni syndrome

People with Li-Fraumeni syndrome have an increased risk of several cancers from childhood. These include soft tissue sarcoma, bone cancerbreast cancerbrain tumours and leukaemia. They are likely to develop more than 1 type of cancer.

Other cancer types

There may be other gene variants that increase the risk of cancer in some families. Researchers are finding some of these and hope to find more in the future.

Some cancers seem to run in families. These include cancers of the pancreasprostatestomach or kidney. If you have a relative with one of these types of cancer, it does not usually mean you have an increased risk of that type of cancer. But if you are worried about several cases of 1 or more types of cancer in your family, talk to your GP. They may consider referring you to a genetics specialist.

If there is a chance of an unknown cancer gene variant in your family, you may be able to take part in a research study. You may be offered screening tests to help detect cancer early. You will also be told what symptoms to look for. This can help find cancer earlier if it develops.

About our information

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our family history and cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at  cancerinformationteam@macmillan.org.uk

    Monahan KJ, Bradshaw N, Dolwani S, et al. Guidelines for the management of hereditary colorectal cancer from the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG)/Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland (ACPGBI)/United Kingdom Cancer Genetics Group (UKCGG). Gut. 2020; 69: 411–444. Available from DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2019-319915 (accessed October 2022).

    NICE. Familial breast cancer: classification, care and managing breast cancer and related risks in people with a family history of breast cancer. Clinical guideline [CG164]. Last updated: 20 November 2019. Available from https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/CG164 (accessed October 2022).

    NICE. Molecular testing strategies for Lynch syndrome in people with colorectal cancer. Diagnostics guidance [DG27]. Published: 22 February 2017. Available from https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/dg27 (accessed October 2022).

    NICE. Testing strategies for Lynch syndrome in people with endometrial cancer. Diagnostics guidance [DG42]. Published: 28 October 2020. Available from https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/dg42 (accessed October 2022).

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Marc Tischkowitz, Reader and Honorary Consultant Physician in Medical Genetics.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

The language we use

We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We want our information to be as clear as possible. To do this, we try to:

  • use plain English
  • explain medical words
  • use short sentences
  • use illustrations to explain text
  • structure the information clearly
  • make sure important points are clear.

We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected.

You can read more about how we produce our information here.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 October 2022
Next review: 01 October 2025
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

This means it is easy to use, up-to-date and based on the latest evidence. Learn more about how we produce our information.