Genes are one of the most important factors in the development of cancer. There is a so-called “breast gene” (BRCA1), which is inherited. And increases the risk of developing breast cancer up to 70-80%. This does not mean that its presence automatically guarantees the development of oncology in a woman – powerful defense systems are provided in our body. But if there is a conditional “gap” in one of them, the chances increase significantly. What to do? If your blood relatives in the female line (we are talking primarily about mother, grandmother, sister, daughter) have had or have breast cancer, it is imperative to take a blood test for the genes of this type of oncology. If the genes are found, the risk of developing the disease increases 20 times. You are at risk and now you should regularly conduct a series of examinations:
breast self-examination (palpation) once a month. The presence of nodules that you can feel under your fingers is an occasion for immediate medical attention;
in the presence of a mutant gene, already after 25 years, do an ultrasound of the breast twice a year, and even better mammography;
if there are no dangerous genes, after 50 years of age, do a mammogram once a year.
Finally, there is the radical path that Angelina Jolie took when she removed her mammary glands and ovaries after she was found to have breast cancer genes. Several of her relatives died after unsuccessful battles with cancer. The actress said that she decided to protect herself for the sake of the future of children. After Jolie’s widely discussed step, the number of such preventive surgeries increased by 30%.
It is worth remembering that 30% of women with detected mutations of the aforementioned genes in the family did not have oncological diagnoses. But this means that in the future these genes can be passed on to their children. This is why preventive research is so important.
The second most lethal type of cancer, experts say, is colon cancer, which can also be inherited. If one of the blood relatives has encountered this disease, you are at risk and should undergo regular examinations. The danger is that a tumor of the large intestine often forms asymptomatically. Patients sound the alarm when bleeding already begins or an acute intestinal obstruction is formed.
Knowing that your first-degree relative had this type of cancer, you should be screened ten years before the age at which it was discovered. It’s about a colonoscopy.
This type of cancer can also be hereditary. The features of this type of disease are early age: 20-40 years old, the presence of a large number of moles on the skin; simultaneous development of melanomas of different localizations in one person. Genetic predisposition is determined by an appropriate analysis, in which mutations in the CDKN2A, CDK4, MC1R genes are established.
If you’re at risk, it’s in your best interest to use SPF-50 sunscreen on all exposed skin and avoid tanning beds. Regularly carefully examine the skin, tracking suspicious formations on the skin. And if you have removed anything on the skin, insist on a histological examination.
To understand the susceptibility to hereditary types of cancer, you can first take the appropriate test (can be found on the Web at the sites of a number of clinics and laboratories). Influencing factors are chronic diseases, autoimmune diseases, frequent herpes, a large number of moles and more. In any case, a more detailed consultation will be given by an oncologist who will collect an anamnesis and, if necessary, refer him to a series of tests. One of the primary ones is a blood test, including oncomarkers (allows you to detect cancer cells at an early stage).
We list the tests that should be taken annually for the early prevention of cancer, even if nothing bothers you and there were no cancer diagnoses in the family.
- Complete blood count and biochemistry – 1 time per year;
- fluorography – 1 time per year;
- Ultrasound of the abdominal organs and kidneys – 1 time in 2 years up to 40 years and 1 time per year after 40;
- examination by a gynecologist, including tests and screening for cervical cancer – once a year;
- Ultrasound of the mammary glands in the absence of diseases – 1 time in 2 years up to 40 years. In the presence of an oncological diagnosis in relatives – 1 time per year;
- mammography in the absence of diseases – 1 time in 2 years from the age of 40, 1 time per year from the age of 50. In the presence of diseases – 1 time per year from the age of 40;
- blood for PSA (men) – 1 time per year from the age of 40 (allows for the primary diagnosis of prostate cancer);
- feces for occult blood – 1 time per year from the age of 50;
- colonoscopy – 1 time in 10 years from the age of 50 in the absence of diseases, 1 time per year – in the presence of an appropriate diagnosis in first-line relatives.
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