To take advantage of the interactive features, please download the chapter to your local system. (793 KB)

Publication Date



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.


University of Massachusetts Medical School


Worcester, MA


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


Cancer Biology | Medical Genetics | Neoplasms | Oncology


2nd ed.

This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, under Contract No. HHSN276201100010C with the University of Massachusetts, Worcester.

Familial Cancer Syndromes



Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.