Frequently Asked Questions

Can men be diagnosed with breast cancer?

Yes, men in the general population can be diagnosed with breast cancer.  Men who carry risky genes have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer than the general population, but the odds are still quite low.  Your genetics professional will be able to assess a male carrier's risk of breast cancer, based on the particular mutation carried and a variety of other factors.

Why are the wait times so long to get into some of the high risk clinics?

These clinics are often restricted by the amount of government funding available to them which affects the level of staff and other resources.  Some are still 100% privately funded.

Do I have to pay for genetic testing, screening or preventative surgeries?

If you live in Canada, for the most part no.  However, if you do not fit the criteria for government-insured genetic testing you will have to pay for that service elsewhere.  In some regions, specialized services such as aerola tattooing may not be covered.

I thought this condition was only about breast cancer.  Why is it called the breast cancer gene?  

The term 'breast cancer gene' is no longer a good representation of the condition because it is based only on the first gene discovered, "BR(east)CA(ncer)1.  This term, as with many others, has become outdated and misleading since other types of cancer and genes are also involved, 

I heard that hereditary cancer is being diagnosed at younger ages.  Is that true?

There is some targeted research that supports that subsequent generations are being diagnosed an average of close to 8 years younger than previous generations.

Is hereditary cancer different than spontaneous cancer?

Yes.  It is much more dangerous.  The gene mutations that cause hereditary cancer reduce one's ability to fend off or fight cancer so it is diagnosed more often and at younger ages in affected families.  Hereditary cancer has a higher rate of recurrence or a second primary cancer and tends to be more aggressive, often making it harder to treat. The gene mutations that cause hereditary cancer can be passed down to children. 

Since its discovery in 1995, this type of hereditary cancer has changed from one type of cancer, caused by mutations in only one gene to several types of cancer, caused by mutations in any of many different genes. As a result, all labels used to describe this syndrome, such as ''breast cancer gene'', ''BRCA'', ''hereditary breast and ovarian cancer'' and ''HBOC'' tell only part of the story, leaving out well over half of those who are affected.  To better serve our patient group, we are in the process of changing our name and updating all resources to reflect the fully inclusive and future forward RISKY GENES™ brand.  We ask for your patience during this process.  

I carry risky genes.  When should I start cancer screening?

The recommended age for early cancer screening may vary, depending on the region, but for the most part it is at 25 years of age.  In addition, this may be dependent on a variety of other factors including family history.