Molecular testing looks for specific inherited changes (mutations) in a person’s genetic make-up. Genetic mutations may have multiple different effects on a patient’s health. Mutations that are harmful may increase a person’s chance, or risk, of developing a disease such as cancer. Inherited mutations are thought to play a role in 5-10% of all cancers. These particular conditions are considered hereditary and appropriate genetic testing may be used to determine an individual’s risk.
Some people inherit mutation(s) in the germline, allowing for the mutations to be passed on from their parents and to their children. There are two classes of cellular genes: oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. Often, multiple genetic mutations in a single individual are responsible for the development of hereditary cancers.