In most cases, an abnormal gene responsible for cancer develops by chance or is related to a risk factor such as smoking or obesity. But in some instances, individuals inherit an abnormal, or mutated, gene from one or both of their parents. This hereditary mutation contributes to the risk of developing cancer during a person’s lifetime. Cancers that affect multiple family members and pass from generation to generation are referred to as familial cancer syndromes.

At the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic, our physicians and genetic counselors use personal and family history as well as genetic testing to assess cancer risk of individuals and their family members.

Cancer types for which mutations have been found and genetic testing is available include: