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Hereditary Cancer

For more information, please contact

Elissa Morrissette
Vice President, Development

What is Hereditary Cancer?

About 10 percent of cancers are hereditary, and occur as gene mutations that increases cancer risk are passed down from a parent to a child.

BC Cancer’s Hereditary Cancer Program, led by Medical Geneticist Dr. Kasmintan Schrader and Medical Oncologist Dr. Sophie Sun, performs genetic testing on tumors to identify if a patient’s family is at risk of cancer.

This program is an exciting advancement in cancer prevention, and early detection.

Hereditary Cancer Explained

The Progress is Real

To date, the HCP team has:

  • Obtained pilot data that led to additional provincial funding to adopt large group genetic counselling as standard of care
  • Improved patient access to genetic testing by decreasing wait times with the large group model
  • Improved identification of patients and families with hereditary cancer who otherwise would not have been eligible for HCP-funded testing
  • Enabled HCP outreach across B.C. including large group counselling sessions in Kelowna, Nanaimo and Victoria

With the Generosity of the Diamond Foundation, the Hereditary Cancer Program Will Go Even Further

Thanks to a historic investment of $7.2 million from the Diamond family, thousands more at-risk individuals and their families will be identified and offered life-saving preventative screening, strategies and treatment.

“The Diamond Foundation’s generous donation is a giant step on the path towards transforming hereditary cancer care across B.C. It will support three important clinical initiatives to accelerate identification of patients and significantly enhance our ability to provide follow-up support and care,” say Drs. Kasmintan Schrader and Sophie Sun, co-directors of BC Cancer’s Hereditary Cancer Program (HCP).

Currently only 5% of the 50,000 British Columbians who carry an inherited gene have been identified. The Diamonds’ gift will help change this through three innovative projects that will:

  • Increase identification in people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, who are 10 times more likely (1 in 40) to carry BRCA gene mutations.
  • Implement immediate genetic testing for breast cancer patients age 60 and under, upon biopsy.
  • In a first-in-Canada initiative, directly contact relatives of high-risk individuals to pursue testing.

It will also accelerate expertise at BC Cancer by funding three new Breast Imaging Fellowships, and streamline and enable personalized, patient-centred care through the creation of new, specialized roles (two nurse navigators, two nurse practitioners and three genetic counsellors) and a new space to home all hereditary cancer resources in one convenient location.

Donate today to join the Diamonds in bolstering hereditary cancer care in B.C. to increase identification and prevention, and save lives for generations of families.

“With donor support, BC Cancer will be one of the first in the world to test upfront genetic screening that could eliminate a diagnosis in the first place.”

– Dr. Kasmintan Schrader, co-director, BC Cancer Hereditary Cancer Program

Donate now to make an impact for all British Columbians.