The Hereditary Tumors Unit was created to support patients with hereditary cancers and to monitor those with a high risk of developing such a tumor.
It is estimated that between 5 and 10 percent of individuals with cancer developed the disease due to hereditary-familial causes. For some types of cancer (breast, colon, stomach, kidney, melanoma, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal and pancreas), genes have been identified whose alteration may predispose to tumor development; many studies are underway for other types of cancer.
Identifying and treating tumors with a familial origin is a challenge that requires special resources and skills. The Hereditary Tumors Unit follows the patient step by step, from cancer genetic counseling to the possible analysis of DNA, up to the implementation of personalized diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic procedures. In the Unit, endocrinologists, oncologists, geneticists and surgeons work together to ensure a multidisciplinary approach to hereditary cancer and preventive cancer care.
Five teams are present in the Unit:
- hereditary endocrine / neuroendocrine tumors (the group is also present at the IOV clinic in Castelfranco Veneto);
- Heredo-familial colorectal cancer;
- Heredo-familial cancers of the breast and ovary (the group is also present at the IOV clinic in Castelfranco Veneto);
- hereditary melanoma;
- hereditary kidney cancer.
Another mission of the Unit is to assist patients with oncoendocrinology related problems, in particular:
- endocrine complications of cancer therapy;
- tumors of the endocrine glands;
- prenatal genetic diagnosis.
The conditions treated in this unit include: endocrine/neuroendocrine hereditary cancers, heredo-familial colorectal cancers, hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, familial melanoma, and hereditary kidney cancer.
Patients with familial tumors and people with suspected familial predisposition can receive oncogenetic counseling with a geneticist, supported by an oncologist or an expert of the pathology under examination.
Those who undergo counseling are invited to provide data on their family and illness. Based on this information, the geneticist evaluates whether it is necessary to perform a genetic test. The decision to be tested must be made autonomously and consciously, and only after a patient signs the appropriate consent. To help in the choice, the doctors of the Hereditary Tumor Unit and Oncoendocrinology provide all the information available:
- on the disease and / or the risk of developing it
- on the genetic test and its limits
- on the risk of illness based on the test result
- on the available preventive and / or therapeutic possibilities.
To identify the predisposition for development of hereditary cancer gives us a great advantage in being able to predict the evolution of the disease in the affected subject and to eliminate or reduce cancer risk in predisposed relatives, providing them with an appropriate surveillance program.