What Can I Do?

Please note; in the UK all men over 50 yrs that are concerned about prostate cancer can have a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test on the NHS from their GP.
Visit your Doctor

If, after reading the genetics and cancer, and the inherited predisposition and cancer sections of this website, you are concerned that there could be a gene alteration running in your family which may predispose you to developing cancer, then you should visit your doctor to discuss your concerns. After discussing your family history with you, your doctor may choose to refer you to a genetic counsellor or a cancer specialist if he/she feels there might be a chance of an inherited predisposition gene running in your family.

Before visiting your doctor it would be advisable to find out who in your family has developed cancer, as well as the type of cancer and age at diagnosis, so that your doctor can assess whether or not there is a cause for concern.

Talk to a Genetic Counsellor

After receiving a referral from your doctor it may take a few months before you are seen by a genetics or cancer specialist. Waiting times may vary between different areas.

Talking to a genetic counsellor or cancer specialist can help to relieve anxiety. After listening to your concerns and exploring your family history, the counsellor will be able to advise you on your risk of developing cancer and whether there are any measures you can take to manage that risk.

It is possible that they can advise you of preventative measures you can take which may reduce your risk of developing cancer; if appropriate, they may also refer you for screening tests which can detect early signs of cancer (sometimes they can even detect small changes that happen before a cancer develops).

Genetic Testing

If you have a strong family history cancer, or if there are patterns of cancer that suggest an inherited risk, your family might also be offered a genetic test. Having a genetic test can involve having to make a number of difficult decisions. Any decision to have a test should be discussed extensively with a genetic counsellor beforehand. Counselling support is also available through specialist health professionals working with the genetic clinic. Please take a look at our Genetic Testing section for further information. We have also provided links to other resources which can give you more detailed information about genetics and cancer.

Please remember, if a genetic counsellor advises you that you are not at an increased risk of developing a cancer as a result of your family history, this does not mean that you will never develop cancer. Only a very small proportion of all cancer is caused by an inherited predisposition, and you will still be subject to the same risks of developing cancer as the general population. For certain cancers these can be still be relatively high.

Family histories can also change over time. It is important that you tell the genetic specialist of any new cancers which develop in your family after your appointment so that they can re-assess your risk.

Next Section >> Genetic Testing