For some, it may seem like certain types of cancers “run in the family.” This can be due to shared behaviors or exposures that increase cancer risk, or an abnormal genetic change that’s passed down from generation to generation.

Over the past 25 years, beginning with the “breast cancer gene” (BRCA) discovery in 1995, the science of cancer genetics has been exponentially advancing. More than 50 genes have been identified and associated with increasing an individual’s lifetime risk of developing cancer. As a group, these genes are believed to play a role in about 5 to 10 percent of all cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute.

From comprehensive medical-grade testing to do-it-yourself at-home genetic testing kits, there currently is an abundance of genetic tests to choose from. And more and more people are taking the proactive step of getting tested. “Over the next three years more than 100 million people are expected to pursue hereditary cancer testing,” says Ellen Matloff, the president and CEO of My Gene Counsel, a company that helps people make sense of their genetic testing results.

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