NOTE: 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.  

Red Flags

NEW RESEARCH suggests criteria for genetic testing too restrictive

Genetic testing criteria outdated

50% of carriers have no cancer history

Current genetic testing criteria may vary slightly, but for the most part, government-insured genetic counsellors will be looking for a confirmed genetic mutation anywhere in a family, or one or more of the following within the same side of a family:

  • Multiple individuals with breast, ovarian or prostate cancer
  • Breast cancer in both breasts
  • Breast and ovarian cancer in the same individual
  • Women with early onset breast or ovarian cancer
  • Breast cancer that is triple negative at 50 or younger
  • Breast or ovarian cancer in a families with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
  • Men with breast cancer
  • Men with early onset prostate cancer
  • Multiple individuals with uterine, stomach, colon, melanoma or pancreatic cancer

If your family has one or more of these red flags listed above, gather your family's cancer history  (you can print the form to the right for that purpose) and take it to your general practitioner to discuss the possibility of government-insured genetic testing. 

If your family history does not satisfy your health region's criteria for government-insured genetic testing, you are facing long wait times, or your doctor does not believe your history warrants genetic testing but you still want it for piece of mind, there are now many affordable, quick-turnaround services available through private clinics or online.  

Family History Form