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While the majority of cancers are not inherited, there are a number of well described collections of cancers that occur within families. These cancer syndromes were initially identified based on observation of the family history and subsequently the molecular mechanisms have been elucidated. This chapter in Cancer Concepts: A Guidebook for the Non-Oncologist is intended to allow the reader to recognize when a pattern of cancers occurs in an individual or their family, and to generate an investigation into potential cancer syndromes. With the rapidly expanding understanding of the molecular basis of cancers at the cellular and constitutional levels, appropriate preventive care may be offered and tailored treatment holds great promise.

Publication Date



University of Massachusetts Medical School


Worcester, MA


Early onset cancer, genetic risk, Knudson’s hypothesis, mutations


Cancer Biology | Neoplasms | Oncology

Familial Cancer Syndromes



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