Dear Dr. Roach: On my mother’s side of the family, all four sisters out of seven children were diagnosed with cancer and have died from the disease. Their ages at the time they passed ranged between 60 and 70, and the type of cancer was different for each of them (lung, gallbladder, uterus and stomach). The men in the family do not seem to be affected even though all were raised in the same household with the same parents. Clearly the vulnerability lies with the women.
Is there any genetic test or other proactive step that female (or male?) children can take to detect predisposition to cancer? My family doctor tells me that since the cancer was different for each, the best advice is to stay current with normal screenings, such as mammograms and Pap smears.
Is there anything else you would recommend? Does this maternal family history typically reoccur with each new generation? — O.N.
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