Hereditary Cancers

While the majority of cancer is sporadic and occurs by chance, approximately 5-10% is hereditary and occurs because an individual was born with a harmful change in a gene that increased their risk to develop cancer. In general, it is estimated that approximately 5-10% of breast cancer, 5% of colorectal cancer, and up to 25% of ovarian cancer is due to a harmful change in a gene associated with hereditary cancer. Other types of cancer may also be hereditary.

Hereditary Cancers
Hereditary cancers are caused by pathogenic variants (harmful changes) in certain genes passed from one generation to the next. These pathogenic variants are usually inherited from a parent and can significantly increase the risk for one or more cancers.

Sporadic Cancers
Sporadic cancers are caused by a random event and are not passed from one generation to the next within a family. Sporadic cancers occur more frequently as we get older due to environmental and lifestyle exposures such as diet, weight, exercise, smoking, and alcohol use among others.

When is Genetic Testing for Hereditary Cancers Appropriate?

Individuals with a personal and/or family history of the following may be at risk for hereditary breast, ovarian, and/or endometrial cancer. Family history includes first, second, and third-degree blood relatives (including parents, siblings, children, aunts/uncles, cousins, and grandparents).

  • Cancer at a young age (under the age of 50)
  • Rare cancers at any age (such as male breast cancer, ovarian cancer)
  • More than one type of cancer in the same individual (also referred to as multiple primary cancers)
  • 10 or more colon polyps
  • A known genetic alteration in the family
  • Multiple cases of cancers on one side of the family spanning multiple generations
  • An individual of Ashkenazi Jewish descent with breast, ovarian or pancreatic at any age

It is important to provide detailed information on the personal and family histories of cancer, including ages of diagnosis, pathology, and relationship between family members. This information can help determine if testing is appropriate and which test is medically necessary, as well as may impact insurance coverage.

Hereditary Cancer Testing Options

Breast and Gynecological Cancer Panels
Panels for Multiple Cancer Types

These panels address a broad range of cancer susceptibility genes. Testing using these panels may be appropriate for patients/families with a wide spectrum of cancers.

Tumor Specific Panels

Hereditary cancer testing is offered by BioReference® through GenPath. GenPath is a leading expert in cancer diagnostics and offers a comprehensive test portfolio, including risk assessment for hereditary cancers.

Tools for your Practice

Family History Forms

A questionnaire which can help determine if individuals or other family members are candidates for genetic testing

Patient Educational Materials
  • Patient-friendly guides
  • Panel fact sheets
  • Patient videos
Patient Support
  • Patient Friendly Reports that provide an explanation and discussion of individual test results and management options
  • Genetic counseling services available upon request

Hereditary Cancer Testing

Our Hereditary Cancer Program advantages include access to genetic counseling support, patient-friendly billing policies, patient education materials and easy specimen collection options. 

looking for More Information?

For additional information and resources, please click the link below to visit GenPath.

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Full test information can also be found using the Test Directory.