The Familial Cancer Risk Assessment Center at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center was created to provide comprehensive risk assessment and management recommendations to individuals with significant personal and/or family histories of cancer.

It is estimated that one out of every three Americans will develop cancer sometime during their lifetime. While it is difficult to determine the exact cause of cancer in an individual, the majority of cancer is thought to be due to a combination of factors such as chance events, the aging process, or environmental exposures. About 5 to 10 percent of cancer cases are caused by a hereditary predisposition that is passed on within a family.

Inherited factors (genes) play an important role in many cancers. We know of several genes that are associated with an increased chance of developing certain types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, colon, and uterine cancer, to name a few. Features that are suggestive of a hereditary predisposition to cancer include the following:

  • Multiple family members affected with the same cancer (such as breast cancer) or related cancers (such as breast and ovarian cancer, or colon and uterine cancer)
  • Earlier than average ages of diagnosis
  • Multiple primary cancers in the same individual (such as cancer in both breasts)
  • Cancer occurring in multiple generations

We encourage you to explore this site to learn more about hereditary cancer predisposition and the services we provide.

Other Cancers

The majority of cancer is thought to be due to a combination of non-hereditary factors such as chance events, the aging process, or environmental exposures. Only about 5 to 10 percent of cancer cases are caused by a hereditary predisposition that is passed on within a family. Cancers that are most commonly associated with a hereditary predisposition include breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer. However, individuals with other types of cancer may also wish to consult with a genetic counselor. There are rare hereditary cancer predisposition syndromes that are associated with other types of cancer, such as thyroid cancer and stomach cancer. A genetic counselor can help evaluate your personal and family history to determine if a risk assessment appointment is necessary.

Please contact us at 781-744-3982.

Our center also provides counseling and genetic testing for the following syndromes:

  • Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome (including the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations)
  • Cowden syndrome
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer syndrome (Lynch syndrome)
  • Colon polyp syndromes: Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, MYH-Associated Polyposis, Juvenile Polyposis
  • Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer syndrome
  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
  • Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome
  • Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome
  • Hereditary Paraganglioma syndrome
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia, Type 1 and Type 2 syndrome
  • Hereditary Leiomyomatosis and Renal Cell Cancer syndrome
  • Hereditary Papillary Renal Cell Cancer syndrome
  • Familial Atypical Multiple Mole Melanoma syndrome