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Family Cancer Unit

Your health comes first, which is why Sanitas has d the new Family Cancer Unit.

The Sanitas Family Cancer Unit is a multidisciplinary unit aimed at offering advice to people who are at risk of developing cancer, as well as their families. This s informing people about their likelihood of developing a tumour, and the chances of their descendants inheriting a susceptibility to the disease. The Unit offers molecular diagnostic testing through the Genetics Unit, as well as advice from cancer experts on prevention measures and early diagnosis.

Only 5-10% of tumours are hereditary. The genetic alterations that lead to certain cancers can be passed down from parent to child, and people carrying these mutations are far more likely to develop a tumour. This necessitates a detailed genetic assessment of the family so that the person in question can be informed not only about their likelihood of developing a tumour and passing on a predisposition to their children, but also about prognosis, early detection strategies, and effective treatments.

 

FAMILY CANCER PROGRAMME

Although today's biggest risk factors for cancer are diet and smoking, current knowledge on hereditary cancer should not be ignored in the fight to reduce the incidence and seriousness of the disease.

Nowadays, most people have experienced an incidence of cancer in their family. In large families, it is not uncommon to find several people with some type of tumour. A family history of cancer can increase the risk of developing a tumour.

Only 5-10% of all cancers are related to a hereditary genetic mutation. In such cases, the mutation can pass from parents to children. Children in such families will have a 50% chance of inheriting the genetic mutation. Inheriting a genetic mutation does NOT mean that the person is born with cancer, but that they have a greater risk of developing cancer at some point in their lives.

There are a number of general signs that are suggestive of familial cancer. If any of the following sound like your family, you should consult your doctor. Your doctor will then make a more detailed analysis to see if you are at low, medium, or high risk of developing a certain type of cancer (which has occurred in your family).

  • Tumours in several generations of close relatives in the same branch of the family
  • Developing cancer at an earlier than usual age (for example, breast cancer at 30 years old)
  • More than one diagnosis of cancer in the same person
  • Specific types of tumours that are linked to specific genes (for example, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, and endometrial cancer).

The aim of genetic counselling clinics is to help people learn more about hereditary cancer and understand their own risks of developing a tumour.

  • Assessment of genes and how they have been passed from parents to children
  • Review of current information on genes and cancer.
  • Detailed assessment of the family tree, with a particular focus on identifying family members who may develop, or who have already had, a tumour.
  • Detailed explanation of the differences between sporadic cancer (which everybody has the same chance of developing) and hereditary cancer (which seems to be linked to a genetic mutation).
  • Interpretation of the pattern of cancer in the family and its implications for the person concerned.
  • Discussion of the genetic tests available for identifying a specific mutation in the individual and/or their family.
  • Recommendations for prevention. Discussion of screening options aimed at early detection and/or establishing prevention measures.

Find out more about the risk of familial cancer


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