Hereditary cancer: family history, diagnosis, molecular genetics, ecogenetics, and management strategies

Biochimie. 2002 Jan;84(1):3-17. doi: 10.1016/s0300-9084(01)01363-3.


The translation of knowledge about hereditary breast cancer and its improved control, as well as prevention through prophylactic surgery, has been significantly accelerated through the veritable explosive discoveries in molecular genetics inclusive of BRCA1 and BRCA2 germline mutations. Needed however, among the physician community, medical geneticists, and genetic counselors, is a raised level of knowledge about hereditary breast cancer syndromes. Particular attention needs to be given to their extant genotypic and phenotypic heterogeneity, their natural history, and foremost, the requirement of a sufficiently detailed family history, with knowledge as to how to interpret its significance so that hereditary cancer syndrome can be diagnosed, should it, in fact, exist in the particular family. Collectively, surveillance and management programs can then be developed for the patient and his or her high-risk relatives. We believe very firmly that this knowledge needs to be extended to the individual patient(s), first- and second-degree relatives so that they can benefit from this knowledge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli / genetics
  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Male
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pedigree
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics