Which cancers can be found in your genes? - New York News

Which cancers can be found in your genes?

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Dr. Dana Zakalik with Beaumont Hospital talked about cancer and genetics. Dr. Dana Zakalik with Beaumont Hospital talked about cancer and genetics.
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

For decades, she has been inspiring controversy, style and tabloid fodder. Now actress Angelina Jolie has sparked a new worldwide conversation.

Jolie revealed she carries the breast and ovarian cancer gene and admitted to having a preventive mastectomy, prompting a key question among many. How often can cancer be detected in our genes?

"Overall about 10 percent of cancers are genetic, inherited," said Dr. Dana Zakalik, director of the Cancer Genetics program at Beaumont Hospital.

She said Jolie's story has spiked interest in genetic testing, but it is really only for a very specific group.

"I think anybody who has either a personal or family history of early onset cancer or multiple cancers of the same type or certain rare cancers," Zakalik said.

Genes are pieces of DNA found in the nucleus of every cell in your body. You get half from your mother and half from your father. When there is a specific gene mutation, that raises your risk for cancer.

Which cancers have been linked to a gene mutation? Several, including breast, ovarian, colon and pancreatic, but research happening right now will no doubt expand that list.

"People are scanning our whole genome right now for other cancer associated genes, and we're finding some. It's just that the research hasn't gotten to the point where we can test for that. So I suspect that there are many more cancers that are genetically linked that may not yet have a genetic test associated with it," Zakalik said.

Genetic testing can cost up to $4,000. The majority of the time insurance companies will pay for the testing as long it's considered appropriate and necessary.

The first step is to get a good grasp of your family history. For help, visit the following links:

https://familyhistory.hhs.gov/fhh-web/home.action

http://cancer.beaumont.edu/genetics

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