What is HBOC Syndrome?
A genetic predisposition that greatly increases the chance of certain cancers, particularly breast and ovarian, that tend to be more aggressive and diagnosed at a younger age. This is due to a genetic mutation that has been passed down through the generations, and may continue to be passed to children by either a male or female carrier parent. An estimated 80,000 Canadians carry an HBOC syndrome mutation.
Am I at risk?
What to look for: ■ Multiple individuals on the same side of your family with breast and/or ovarian cancer ■ Individuals with breast cancer in both breasts ■ Breast and ovarian cancer in the same individual ■ Individuals with breast cancer at age 40 or younger ■ Individuals with breast cancer that is 'triple negative' at 50 or younger ■ Breast or ovarian cancer in families with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage ■ Men with breast cancer ■ Confirmed genetic mutation anywhere in your family.
How do I get tested?
Talk to your doctor about your suspicions and if your family history warrants it, ask for a referral to the local genetics clinic where they will do a complete review of your background. Genetic testing may only be possible if there is a living cancer survivor in the family and this individual is willing to participate. Genetic testing can be performed on a blood or saliva sample. If there are no living survivors you still may be deemed as high risk based on your background.
I have it. What now?
If you have a confirmed genetic mutation others in your family may also. Talk to them about getting tested. Become more informed. Talk to your doctor about your options for early screening or cancer risk reduction which may include lifestyle management, preventative chemotherapies and/or preventative surgeries. Explore this site and others. Get connected to others in your situation. You are not alone!