This post is brought to you by Northside Hospital Cancer Institute.

Only 5-10% of all diagnosed cancers are inherited. If your family has a history of cancer, you have the power to learn more about the risks for you and your children.

Hereditary cancers occur when mutations (changes) in specific genes are passed down from either parent. These mutations greatly increase a person’s risk of developing certain types of cancer.

Dozens of genes have been discovered that can increase a person’s risk to develop cancer. If a mutation in a cancer-causing gene is identified within a family, it can help the entire family better understand their risks and be proactive. As these genes are only passed down 50% of the time, it also can help those individuals in the family who did not inherit the mutation.

If you have a strong family history of cancer, genetic testing can help you assess your personal risk, make decisions about preventive measures and access earlier or more frequent cancer screenings. Testing can provide risk information for a number of cancers, including breast, colon, prostate, ovarian and uterine.

Both men and women should consider genetic testing. Men can inherit and pass on genetic mutations. In fact, 50% of all mutation carriers are men, although they are tested at far lower rates than women.

It’s important to note though that a genetic test does not diagnose cancer. It can only tell you about gene mutations you may have that increase your risk of developing cancer.

Genetic counseling is recommended before and after all genetic testing to help you understand the implications for you results and available next steps. Genetic counselors at the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute Cancer Genetics Program are specially trained experts that work with patients who are concerned about their family history of cancer and are considering genetic testing. For more information, call 404-851-6284 or visit