There is a lot of misinformation about hereditary cancer, so we're breaking down some of the most persistent myths and giving you the real facts instead.
Myth: Hereditary cancer is common in families with a history of cancer.
Fact: Most families do not have hereditary cancer. Almost everyone has a relative who has had cancer. In large families, several relatives may have had cancer. Hereditary cancer happens when a change (mutation) in a gene is passed down from one generation to the next. Less than 1 cancer in 10 is hereditary.
Myth: Family history is the biggest risk factor for cancer.
Fact: Age is the biggest risk factor for most types of cancer. About 7 cancers in 10 occur in people aged 60 years or older. Other common risk factors include smoking and diet.
Myth: Cancer in close relatives on both sides of the family indicates hereditary cancer.
Each side of the family is assessed separately for signs
of hereditary cancer. Family history of concern must be on the same side of the family.
Myth: Travel to Vancouver is required to take part in the Hereditary Cancer Program.
Fact: In-person appointments are available in: Abbotsford, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Prince George, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria. Hereditary cancer consultation by video conference is available for many sites across BC and the Yukon.