Women with germline mutations in the cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 or BRCA2, associated with Hereditary Breast & Ovarian Cancer syndrome, have up to an 85% lifetime risk of breast cancer and up to a 46% lifetime risk of ovarian, tubal, and peritoneal cancers. Similarly, women with mutations in the DNA mismatch repair genes, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, or PMS2, associated with the Lynch/Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC) syndrome, have up to a 40-60% lifetime risk of both endometrial and colorectal cancers as well as a 9-12% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. Mutations in other genes including TP53, PTEN, and STK11 are responsible for hereditary syndromes associated with gynecologic, breast, and other cancers. Evaluation of the likelihood of a patient having one of these gynecologic cancer predisposition syndromes enables physicians to provide individualized assessments of cancer risk, as well as the opportunity to provide tailored screening and prevention strategies such as surveillance, chemoprevention, and prophylactic surgery that may reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with these syndromes. Evaluation for the presence of a hereditary cancer syndrome is a process that includes assessment of clinical and tumor characteristics, education and counseling conducted by a provider with expertise in cancer genetics, and may include genetic testing after appropriate consent is obtained. This commentary provides guidance on identification of patients who may benefit from assessment for the presence of a hereditary breast and/or gynecologic cancer syndrome.
Keywords: BRCA1; BRCA2; Cowden syndrome; Genetic testing; Hereditary cancer; Lynch syndrome.
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