The identification of hereditary genetic alterations can facilitate the treatment of the tumor and increase the patient’s chances of cure.


According to data from the National Cancer Institute (INCA), although the genetic factor plays an important role in the formation of tumors, cases of cancer that are exclusively due to hereditary, family and ethnic factors are rare. About 5% to 10% of tumors are hereditary, that is, passed from parents to children. People who develop the disease have a 50% chance of passing the genetic change to their children with each pregnancy, regardless of sex.

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are part of everyone’s body and their function is to regulate cell growth and prevent the onset of cancer by repairing damaged DNA molecules. But when these genes undergo some mutation, our body becomes more vulnerable to the appearance of malignant tumors. Among the most common hereditary tumors are breast, ovarian, colorectal, gastric and adrenocortical tumors, more common in children.

When the patient has cases of cancer in the family, it is important that medical follow-up is done early on, as an early diagnosis facilitates treatment and considerably increases the chances of cure.

The diagnosis, in these cases, is made through genetic tests. As the specialist in molecular biology at Unimed Laboratory, Dr. Roberta Lelis Dutra, there are numerous tests that can identify changes in a patient’s genome, from small to large changes in the genome. “Unigenne, which is the molecular biology sector of Unimed Laboratório, performs the germline genetic test, that is, the genetic alterations are identified by the patient’s blood. This type of test can predict whether the patient was already born with that change, inherited from the father, mother or some other ancestor, and if he or she will develop a tumor in the future,” she explains.

When the change is germinal, there is also a greater chance of it being transmitted to other family members. Therefore, when the test results indicate a positive diagnosis for the disease, the genetic counseling process begins.

In this process, the specialist is able to identify the changes, explain to the patient the implications of that result and proceed, as soon as possible, with the most appropriate treatment for that case.

“The doctor can also ask other family members to test for prevention or the best clinical management for each case. Many women, for example, when they discover the hereditary genetic alteration, can go for a mastectomy or hysterectomy to prevent the development of tumors, in cases of breast and ovarian cancer”, completes the doctor.

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