Office: 535 Ocean Avenue, Portland, Maine 04103     Phone: (207) 518-6000     Fax: (207) 518-6001

Why Is It Important To Know About My Family History Of Cancer?

There are some variations in genes passed from parent to child that can drastically raise your risk of cancer. Fortunately, knowing if your family is at-risk gives you power to take steps that may help you and your family members to reduce/eliminate the risk for cancer, or detect cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage. If certain cancers occur in your family, genetic testing may be an important step for you.  Knowing your family history is the first step. Do you have a family or personal history of any of the following? (Consider both your mother’s and father’s side of the family.)

Red Flags — Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (BRCA1 & BRCA2 Genes)

You or a family member (mother’s or father’s side) were diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 or younger
You or a family member were diagnosed with ovarian cancer at any age
You have a male family member with breast cancer at any age
You have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, and a personal or family history of an HBOC-associated cancer at any age
There are two breast cancers in the same person or on the same side of the family at any age
You or a family member were diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at any age
There is pancreatic cancer and an HBOC-associated cancer in the same person or on the same side of the family at any age
There are three family members with breast cancer in the same side of the family
You have a previously identified BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation in your family


Red Flags for Inherited Colon and Endometrial Cancer (Lynch Syndrome)

Colorectal cancer before age 50
Endometrial (uterine) cancer before age 50
Two or more Lynch syndrome-related cancers*
A previously identified Lynch syndrome mutation

*Lynch syndrome-related cancers include: colorectal, endometrial, stomach, ovarian, kidney/urinary tract, biliary tract, brain, small bowel, pancreatic, sebaceous adenoma/carcinoma.

What is involved in testing for hereditary cancer?

  1. Look for red flags in your personal and family history.
  2. Make an appointment with Dr. Rainville for a cancer risk assessment appointment and bring all family history information with you.
  3. If it is determined that genetic testing is appropriate, you will have a test done, during which a small amount of blood will be drawn and sent for analysis.
  4. After you receive your results, you and Dr. Rainville can discuss your personalized cancer risk reduction steps.


If you think you may be at risk, you may complete a confidential, highly secure online quiz customized for Women’s Wellness that will send your results of the screen directly to Dr. Rainville. Click here to take the online quiz.

Women’s Wellness Staff will contact you once the results have been evaluated to schedule your consultation visit. Or if you prefer, you may complete a paper version in person. All patients are screened routinely at the office in according with ACOG’s guidelines for cancer prevention for women.