If you have an inherited cancer gene, there is a 1 in 2 (50%) chance that any child you have could inherit it from you. Your genetics specialist can talk to you about your options.

About inherited cancer genes

If you have an inherited cancer gene, there is a 1 in 2 (50%) chance that any child you have could inherit it from you. Your genetics specialist can talk to you about this if you have questions.

Many people choose to have children and accept that the child may have a higher cancer risk. They may feel the child will have the same or perhaps better ways to manage that risk when they grow up.

If you have an inherited cancer gene and want to be sure you do not pass it on to any children, sometimes other options are available.

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis PGD

This test is done during in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Doctors collect egg and sperm cells from you and a partner. They use these to create embryos in the laboratory. They test these embryos for the cancer gene (PGD). The fertility specialist then transfers an embryo that does not have the cancer gene into the woman’s womb.

PGD is not available to everyone. There are age limits, and funding may not always be available. PGD is only done in a few centres in the UK. You may need to travel some distance to have it. You can find more about PGD on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s website.

Egg or sperm donation

Some couples decide to use:

  • donor eggs (if the woman has the gene mutation)
  • donor sperm (if the man has the gene mutation).

Prenatal testing

Some couples choose to have a test early on during the pregnancy to check for the cancer gene. The couple can decide whether to continue with the pregnancy when they know the results.

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