Families affected by a hereditary cancer syndrome may have certain patterns of cancer diagnoses among relatives.

Family health history can help assess a person’s risk for hereditary cancers and other inherited diseases.

You should consider meeting with a genetic counselor for a cancer risk assessment if you find one or more of the following in your family health history:

  • Two or more closely related individuals with breast cancer, diagnosed at any age
  • Cancer diagnosed at young ages (before 50)
  • Multiple cancer diagnoses in one individual (e.g. breast and ovarian, bilateral breast cancer)
  • Individuals affected in multiple generations (e.g. grandfather, mother, and aunt)
  • A parent, child, or sibling with ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, or metastatic/advanced prostate cancer
  • Less commonly seen cancers such as male breast cancer
  • Two or more family members with the same type of cancer (e.g. breast, ovarian, prostate, uterine, colon, or stomach cancers)
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
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Hereditary cancer FAQs

Get answers to commonly asked questions about hereditary cancers, cancer genetic counseling and testing, and more.

Family Health History

Knowing your family health history can help you understand whether you may be at increased risk for hereditary cancers or for passing on certain conditions to your children.