Still Smiling After Four Cancers and Li-Fraumeni Syndrome

Martha Pena has endured breast cancer twice (once in each breast), lung cancer that metastasized to her brain, and stomach (gastric) cancer — all by age 40. Now 42, she is receiving ongoing treatment for her lung and gastric cancer at Dana-Farber, where she was also diagnosed with Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS), a rare hereditary condition … Continued

Breaking the Binary: Building Transvisibility in Cancer Genetic Counseling

This article was written by Donna Vatnick, BS, clinical research coordinator in Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention. Historically, cancer risk has been confined to the binary: male versus female. After the discovery of BRCA1 and BRCA2 in the mid-90s, testing of these genes was most often recommended to women. The substantially … Continued

Should I Be Screened for Pancreatic Cancer?

While screening for pancreatic cancer is not recommended for people at average risk of the disease, screening is recommended for those who carry an inherited genetic mutation associated with pancreatic cancer or have a family history of the disease. (Mutations are abnormal stretches of DNA that alter how cells grow and divide.) People with an … Continued

Does Having Cancer Once Increase the Risk of Developing Other Cancers?

People who have had cancer may in some cases have a higher than average risk of developing a new cancer — that is, a cancer not related to the spread, or metastasis, of the original tumor. While the vast majority of people diagnosed with cancer do not develop a different malignancy later in life, it’s … Continued

Living with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome is Using Knowledge as Power

Breast cancer survivor Jennifer Perry is at high risk of additional cancers during her lifetime because she carries an inherited mutation for Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS). But experts at the new Li-Fraumeni Syndrome and TP53+ Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute can help her manage that risk. While there is no treatment for LFS — a familial … Continued

What is CHEK2?

Medically reviewed by Huma Rana, MD CHEK2 is the abbreviated name of the gene called checkpoint kinase 2 (gene names are written in italics). The gene provides cells with instructions for making a protein known as CHK2, which becomes active when DNA within the cell is damaged or strands of DNA break. CHK2 and other … Continued

Living with Lynch Syndrome: One Woman’s Story

Kerry Evers was always concerned that, due to a family history of the disease, cancer could be in her future. Her grandmother, father, uncle, and several of her cousins had been treated for different cancers throughout the course of her life. But Evers’ clearest indication of her chances of developing cancer resulted from learning her … Continued

What is Genomic Testing?

Genomic testing, a newer field to genetics, refers to the process of observing an entire genome (genes that make up an organism) of an organism; for example, the human body. A person has about 25,000 different genes that are made up of about 3 billion DNA units. Genomic testing is different from genetic testing because it … Continued

I Have BRCA1 or BRCA2. What Should I Do?

If you carry BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, you may be at an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers — but it’s important to understand that cancer genetics are complex and other factors influence risk as well. Depending on certain factors like family history, it may be advisable to seek proper genetic counseling … Continued

Detecting Cancer Early: What You Should Know [Podcast]

Cancer research is often geared toward finding new and effective treatments, but researchers are also constantly trying to pinpoint ways to find cancer in its early stages, when it is often more treatable and even curable. While it’s not always possible to find cancer before it arises, incredible advancements have been made in early detection … Continued

What You Should Know About Breast Cancer Risk [Podcast]

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women, and as a result, there is an almost endless stream of information about the disease on the Internet and beyond. One fact we know is that early detection of breast cancer can often make the disease easier to treat, and in some cases, easier to … Continued

At-Home Genetic Tests for Cancer: What You Need to Know

Recently, at-home genetic tests that claim to determine a person’s potential risk for health conditions, such as cancer, have become available. However, the ability of at-home genetic tests to provide information about your cancer risk is very limited.

What are BRCA1/BRCA2 Gene Mutations?

Harmful BRCA mutations are uncommon in the general population. About one in every 500 women in the United States has either a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.

Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer: What You Should Know

Many factors contribute to increased breast cancer risk for some women — including certain inherited genes. About 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, meaning that they are the direct result of gene mutations passed on from a parent. Genes are individual units of inheritance made of DNA. There … Continued

Treating Cancer by Location or Genetic Markers: Which is Better?

In the past, treating cancers involved classifying them primarily by the organ or tissue where they arose – like the skin, the lungs, the breast, or the colon. Today, it’s often possible to identify the genes and proteins responsible for a tumor’s growth, and, in some cases, to offer a drug treatment that specifically targets … Continued

New Online Tool Guides Genetic Testing for Lynch Syndrome

A new online assessment tool developed at Dana-Farber can help rapidly identify people who should undergo genetic testing for Lynch syndrome, an inherited disorder that greatly increases the lifetime risk of colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, stomach, and other cancers. An estimated 1 in 279 individuals – nearly a million people in the United States – carry … Continued

Do I Need Genetic Testing to Assess My Cancer Risk?

The vast majority of cancers do not have a strong hereditary link, but for people who have been diagnosed with cancer or have a significant family history of the disease, genetic testing can often shed light on the cause of the disease or an individual’s likelihood of developing it or other cancers. This information can … Continued