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 the 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 … 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 for 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 to be … 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.

How Common are BRCA 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

BRCA-Positive Mom Takes Control of Her Cancer Risk

After learning in December 2014 that her father was a carrier of the BRCA-1 gene, Katherine Saunders immediately knew she needed genetic testing. The 37-year-old mom of two had a 50-50 chance of inheriting the gene, which increases the risk of ovarian and breast cancers, and was likely responsible for the multiple breast cancer diagnoses in … Continued

Genetics vs. Genomics: What’s the Difference?

Gene, genetics, genome, and genomics all are derived from a Greek word – gen – meaning birth or origin. Almost every aspect of health and disease is influenced in some way by the inherited information in cells, written in the chemical code of DNA and packaged in distinct units known as genes. The complete set … Continued

Can Pancreatic Cancer Be Inherited?

Most cases of pancreatic cancer develop for unknown reasons, but about 10 percent occur in families that have a strong history of the disease. That doesn’t mean that if you are a member of such a family you will develop pancreatic cancer, but rather that you are at a higher risk for it. “Research has … Continued

How to Talk to Your Family about Genetic Cancer Risk

Certain genetic conditions, such as Lynch syndrome, significantly increase your risk of developing some forms of cancer. Learning you have one of these conditions can be emotionally challenging, and deciding when and how to tell your relatives can add an additional layer of worry. Katherine Schneider, MPH, LGC, a senior genetic counselor in Dana-Farber’s Center … Continued