The Hereditary Cancer Program’s mandate is to reduce cancer incidence, mortality, and to improve quality of life for individuals and families with hereditary cancer.

We offer genetic counselling and genetic testing services to patients and families from B.C. and the Yukon. We identify those at risk of a hereditary cancer and provide cancer screening and prevention advice and education to individuals, families, and health care professionals. Individuals and families can be referred by their health care providers or they can self-refer if they meet criteria.

Most cancers are not inherited, but due to other factors, such as age. When cancers occur in families, it is usually due to a combination of genetic factors that slightly increase the risk for cancer in combination with environmental risk factors shared by families.

Approximately 5 to 10 percent of cancers are hereditary, and caused by an inherited gene mutation. There were about 3,900 referrals to the Hereditary Cancer Program last year. In recent years, we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of referrals. This is for the most part due to greater public awareness and the increasing use of genetic testing for cancer treatment planning.

In our next post, we will discuss recent initiatives to address growing demand.

Sophie and Intan