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Genetic testing for hereditary cancer

Genetic testing can be used to find out if the cancer in your family has a hereditary cause. These cancers happen because of a gene that is not working properly and that can be passed along in a family. Only 5 to 10% of cancers have a hereditary cause.

  • If you have already had cancer, genetic testing might tell you why you got cancer.
  • If you are still being treated for cancer, it might be used to make treatment decisions.
  • It might also tell you if you have a high chance of getting other types of cancer and if there are ways to lower your chance of getting cancer or finding it early.

Deciding who to test

In Alberta, genetic testing is covered by Alberta health care if your personal history or personal and family history is suspicious for hereditary cancer.

Genetic testing usually starts with a family member who has had cancer. If a hereditary cause is found, then other family members can have genetic testing to find out if they're also at high risk of developing cancer.​

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