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  1. What are the benefits of knowing if hereditary cancer exists within my family?
    If we know that someone has a gene fault that increases their risk for cancer, there are many things that can be done to manage these cancer risks.

    For someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, the genetic test result can be useful to help guide treatment decisions. It can also help to determine if there are any additional risks for other cancers which should be managed.

    For those who have not been diagnosed with cancer but have an increased risk for this over their lifetime, risk management options can be given to manage or reduce these risks for cancer. Some examples include:
    For those planning a family, genetic test results can also be useful for certain reproductive decisions.

  2. What should I do if I think there is a hereditary cause of cancer in my family?
    If you suspect a hereditary cause of cancer in your family, you may want to discuss this with your doctor.

    Your doctor will advise whether you need to be referred to a Cancer Genetics Service. If you would like to learn more about hereditary cancer, please contact the Cancer Genetics Service at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (+65 6436 8000) and request to speak to a genetic counsellor.

    What’s Hereditary Cancer?

  3. How is genetic testing done?
    Genetic testing involves an once - off blood test. In some cases, a different sample such as saliva or tissue can be taken. This is sent to a clinical laboratory for testing. Results can be received in about 3-6 weeks. 

  4. Is genetic testing experimental?
    Genetic testing is not experimental or research based. It is clinically proven and validated.

  5. Must everyone go for genetic testing?
    It is not necessary for everyone to be tested as not all cases of cancer are hereditary in nature. Usually only certain individuals meet clinical criteria for genetic testing (as mentioned above), which can be discussed with your doctor. To identify whether a hereditary condition exists within a family, testing a relative who already has cancer would be the most beneficial. However, this is not always possible and can be further discussed with a genetics specialist. Once a hereditary cause is identified in a family, testing other family members (those with and without cancer) would be recommended. 

  6. Is genetic testing expensive?
    With advancements in technology, the cost for genetic testing has decreased significantly and continues to be lowered. On top of this, there are subsidies and financial aid schemes available for those who need it most.

    Click here to find out more about the process of genetic testing

    Fundraising campaigns such as Jeans For Genes is a good way to raise funds for genetic testing. If a hereditary cause is identified, family members can also get tested at reduced costs. Don’t let cost be a barrier to get tested.

    Prevention is better than cure and it is always good to ascertain if you or your family members are at increased risk for cancer which can be managed.

  7. Should children be tested?
    Genetic testing for adult onset conditions is not recommended in children. Genetic testing in children is only offered when a child has a personal history of cancer which is suspicious for a hereditary cause or if the gene fault identified in the family gives rise to cancer risks which can occur in childhood.

  8. Do males need to be tested?
    Genetic testing is recommended for both males and females, as both genders can inherit gene fault(s) that increase their risk of cancer. Gene fault(s) can be inherited from either one’s mother or father. Furthermore, males can pass down the gene fault(s) to any of their children (sons and daughters).

  9. If a hereditary cause exists in my family, does that mean I will definitely get cancer?
    No, you may or may not have inherited the gene fault in your family.

    Furthermore, if you do inherit the gene fault, this does not mean you will definitely develop cancer although you have a higher chance of it. In such cases, preventive measures will be discussed with you to manage and decrease your chances of developing cancer.

  10. If a hereditary cause exists in my family but I do not have any symptoms of cancer, does that mean I did not inherit the gene?
    Not necessarily. It is possible that you still carry the gene and can pass it down to your children. It also means that you could possibly develop cancer in the future. Therefore, genetic testing is recommended to all family members who are at risk, including both males and females. 

  11. If I look very similar to my parents and they have cancer, does that mean I definitely inherited the gene for cancer as well?
    Not necessarily. The genes that code for our appearance are different from cancer related genes. If a hereditary condition has been identified in your family, genetic testing for at risk family members would be important, regardless of whether they look like a relative or not.

    Click here to learn more about Hereditary Cancer
  12. Does hereditary cancer only affect females, meaning that males don’t need testing?
    No. Hereditary cancer does not only affect females. Males can both inherit and pass on the gene fault and can be at increased risk for cancer as well. The types of cancer someone may be at increased risk for depends on the gene(s) involved and the risks may vary among males and females. Therefore, genetic testing is recommended in both males and females.

  13. Is hereditary cancer only inherited from mothers?
    No, hereditary cancer can be inherited from both mothers and fathers and can be passed on to both males and females. We inherit half of our genetic material from our mother and half from our father.

  14. If I already have cancer, do I still need to go for genetic testing?
    Even if you have already been confirmed to have cancer, going for testing is still important as it can assist with important treatment decisions which need to be made. It will also help to identify if you are at increased risks for other cancers in the future. Genetic testing can also help to inform if a hereditary cause exists and if your family members may also be at risk.

  15. If a hereditary cause exists among my immediate family members, can it also affect my distant relatives (i.e. aunts, uncles, cousins)?
    Yes, distant relatives may also have inherited the gene fault. It is important to let them know of the possible risk as well.

Together, we can overcome cancer.

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