Houston, TX

Houston Methodist on preventing hereditary cancer

Jackson Cutler

National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

Houston, TX - Certain things are passed down from parents to the children, including a higher risk of inheriting cancer. Cancer that is inherited from parents is called hereditary cancer and it accounts for around 10 percent of diagnosed cancer each year.

According to a genetic counselor at Houston Methodist, Tiffiney Carter, it’s possible for health conditions to run in the family just like physical traits as it comes from the genes.

As cancer is a genetic disease, it can happen when there are changes in genes that happen over the lifetime or when people are born with it — passed down from the parents.

Preventing cancer is possible to a certain degree by decreasing its risk factors by avoiding or stopping unhealthy habits and doing cancer screening. Nonetheless, other uncontrollable factors are always present too, for instance, people that are born with genetic changes linked to cancer.

"But this doesn't mean that hereditary cancers aren't preventable," said Tiffiney Carter, genetic counselor at Houston Methodist. "People with family history of cancer are more likely to develop cancer themselves — but this does not mean that they will."

The crucial thing is for people to ascertain their risk and how to lower it. According to Carter, doing the screening regularly helps the doctors to watch the patients closer and find any unusual conditions at the earliest stage when it’s most treatable.

Consulting with a genetic counselor is also an option that can help you understand your risk of developing cancer and how to lessen it.

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