Genetic Testing For Hereditary Cancers

David Martin, MD -  - Board Certified Obstetrics & Gynecology

Knoxville Gynecologic Cancer Specialists

David Martin, MD

Board Certified Obstetrics & Gynecology & Gynecologic Oncologist located in Knoxville, TN

While many cancers strike without warning, ovarian and breast cancers have strong hereditary links, making genetic counseling a good idea. At Knoxville Gynecologic Cancer Specialists, David Martin, MD, offers comprehensive genetic counseling to women in and around Knoxville, Tennessee, giving them the tools they need to make informed decisions. To get started on your genetic counseling, call the office or request an appointment using the online booking tool.

Genetic Testing for Hereditary Cancers Q & A

What is genetic counseling?

While there’s no crystal ball when it comes to cancer, there are clues, which may lie in your genes. This is especially true if you have a family history of certain cancers or conditions, namely:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Lynch syndrome

Through blood testing that checks for specific mutations in your genes, Dr. Martin is better able to predict your future cancer risk, including developing a second cancer. This type of testing allows you ample time to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself against certain cancers.

What is hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome?

Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome affects one in 300-500 people in the United States who are more at risk for certain cancers because of a mutation in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. There are other gene mutations, but the BRCA mutations are the most common.

These mutations are inherited, and women who have the mutations are more at risk for developing breast and/or ovarian cancer — 5-10% of women with HBOC get breast cancer and 10-15% develop ovarian cancer.

As well, if you’ve already had one of the cancers, your odds of developing the other increase if you have this genetic mutation.

To determine whether you should be tested for HBOC, Dr. Martin reviews your past medical history as well as your family’s medical history to spot any trends.

What is Lynch syndrome?

Lynch syndrome affects 800,000 people in the United States, and it’s caused by a mutation in their MMR genes, which stands for “mismatch repair.” People with this condition are at far greater risk of developing certain cancers. To give you an idea, here are a few examples of the potential cancers and the absolute chances of developing these diseases because of Lynch syndrome:

  • Colorectal cancer: 25-82%
  • Uterine cancer: 20-60%
  • Ovarian cancer: 9-12%
  • Stomach cancer: 11-19%

While there are more cancers associated with Lynch syndrome, these represent the more common ones.

Dr. Martin focuses his work on uterine cancer, which is highly curable if it’s caught in the early stages. He also wants to provide protection against colon cancer, which is often detected after it’s already spread. With genetic testing, Dr. Martin is able to provide you with critical advanced warning.

To get started on potentially life-saving genetic counseling, call Knoxville Gynecologic Cancer Specialists or use the online button to request a consultation.