Learning one carries risky genes can be an extremely traumatic experience. People living in affected families have often lost parents, siblings, children and/or other close relatives and live in constant fear of being next. It's hard to take the step to find out whether you carry risky genes and it is even harder to make the difficult choices required to protect yourself in the case of a positive genetic test result. We are here to help with up-to-date information, helpful resources and to provide supportive connections.
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WHO IS AFFECTED?
Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Syndrome is an inherited disorder in which the risk of breast and ovarian cancer is higher than in the general population, often considerably. It is caused by inherited mutations in genes that control tumor suppression in certain parts of the body. People who carry these mutations may also have an increased risk of some other types of cancer, including prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and melanoma. HBOC syndrome is often referred to as 'the breast cancer gene'' or as ''BRCA'', but those terms don't tell the whole story. We prefer the more inclusive term, ''risky genes.
About 10% of all breast and prostate cancer and 15% of all ovarian cancer is known to be hereditary. This translates to about 1/2 million Canadians who have or will develop hereditary breast, ovarian or prostate cancer. Not all risky gene carriers will develop cancer and some will develop one of the related types of cancer. Taking this into account, over 1 million Canadians are estimated to carry risky genes. Unfortunately, awareness remains so low that an estimated 80% are not yet aware, so can't make informed decisions to save their lives.
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WHAT IS HBOC SYNDROME?