Cancer is not usually inherited, but some types mainly breast, ovarian, colorectaland prostate cancer can be strongly influenced by genes and can run in families.

We all carry certain genes that are normally protective against cancer they correct any DNA damage that naturally occurs when cells divide.

Inheritingfaulty versions or "variants" of these genes significantly raises your risk of developing cancer, because the altered genes cannot repair the damaged cells, which can build up and form a tumour.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two examples of genes that raise your cancer risk if they become altered. Having a variant BRCA genegreatly increases a woman's chance of developing Breast cancer and ovarian cancer .This was the reason Angelina Jolie hadpreventative breast cancer surgery ,followed by ovarian cancer surgery. They also increase a man's chance ofdeveloping male breast cancer and prostate cancer .

BRCA genes are not the only cancer risk genes. Researchers recently identified more than 100 new gene variants associated with an increased risk of breast, prostate and ovarian cancer. Individually, these new gene variants only slightly increase the risk of cancer, but acombination could mean a high risk overall.

If you or your partner have a high-risk cancer gene, such as analtered version ofBRCA1, it can be passed on to any children you have.

If you're concerned, read on. This page covers:

What to do if you're worried

Pros and cons of having a predictive genetic test

What testing involves

What a positive result means

Managing your risk

Tellingclose relatives

Planning a family

Paying for private testing

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016