Breast and ovarian cancer are common conditions and usually occur as isolated cases in a family. In some families, however, these cancers can occur more frequently and affect several generations. In these families, the age of onset of cancer tends to be younger than usual.
Some genes associated with familial breast and ovarian cancer have been identified.
If your mother’s or father’s family has a strong history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, it would be important for you to be seen by a genetic counsellor. The genetic counsellor will evaluate your family’s risks of having an inherited cancer syndrome.
- WHAT CAN CAUSE INHERITED BREAST AND OVARIAN CANCER?
Some of our genes are responsible for protecting our body against developing cancer. If these genes are altered, they are unable to function correctly and therefore predispose you to cancer.
- For inherited breast and ovarian cancer, the two genes that are most commonly altered are known as BRCA1 (Breast Cancer
- Gene 1) and BRCA2 (Breast Cancer Gene 2). There are, however, other genes associated with cancer syndromes.
- An inherited gene fault is also known as a mutation and can be passed down from either parent to his/her children (males and females).
- If a mutation is identified in you or a family member, it has implications for your entire family.
YOU MAY BENEFIT FROM GENETIC COUNSELLING FOR INHERITED BREAST AND OVARIAN CANCER IF YOU:
- Have been diagnosed with breast cancer before 50 years of age.
- Have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer before 60 years of age.
- Have breast and ovarian cancer.
- Have cancer.
- Are a male
- diagnosed with breast cancer at any age.
- Have been diagnosed with breast and/or ovarian cancer at any age and also have a number of first and second degree relatives with breast and/or ovarian cancer.
- Belong to a high risk population (e.g. Afrikaans or Ashkenazi Jewish) and have relatives with breast and/or ovarian cancer.
- Have relatives with a known BRCA mutation or other cancer-causing genetic faults.
WHAT IS GENETIC COUNSELLING AND WHY IS IT NECESSARY?
- The process of genetic counselling addresses concerns relating to the development or transmission of an inherited disorder (e.g. cancer).
- A genetic counsellor will take a thorough family history and discuss the risks of having an inherited cancer syndrome.
- Testing options, if relevant, will be addressed by the genetic counsellor in detail.
- The genetic counsellor will guide and support decisions that need to be made.
- Genetic counselling is necessary to ensure that clients have full understanding of all their options so that they can make informed decisions.
WHAT DOES THE CANCER GENETIC COUNSELLING PROCESS INVOLVE?
Start by phoning or emailing the Division of Human Genetics
011 489 9223/4 firstname.lastname@example.org
A genetic counsellor will provide you with a detailed questionnaire.
Complete and return it.
You will be contacted to book an appointment at one of our genetic counselling clinics*.
You will be seen by a genetic counsellor who will discuss all relevant information and options with you.
*Clinics are held at: The Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital and Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital.