Oops, you're using an old version of your browser so some of the features on this page may not be displaying properly.

MINIMAL Requirements: Google Chrome 24+Mozilla Firefox 20+Internet Explorer 11Opera 15–18Apple Safari 7SeaMonkey 2.15-2.23

ESMO E-Learning: Genetic Testing and Counselling in Hereditary Cancer

E-learning video block

This content is for ESMO members only.



Download slides

Learning objectives

  • Become familiar with a general concept of hereditary cancer syndromes and, at a more profound level, with features of Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer and Lynch syndromes
  • Become familiar with indications, limitations and pitfalls of genetic testing and counselling in hereditary cancer
  • Describe the patient trajectories related to genetic testing and counselling in hereditary cancer


In this E-Learning module, the author, who practises in a specialised centre for cancer genetics, provides essentials on the concept of hereditary cancer, as well as: phenotypes and age-related penetrance, limitations and pitfalls of genetic testing, indications for testing of symptomatic patients, pre-test and post-test, genetic counselling in symptomatic patients and pre-symptomatic genetic testing. He also elaborates the patients’ trajectories and future trends. 

Hereditary cancers, as compared to corresponding sporadic cancers, tend to be characterised by earlier onset, multiple primary tumours and family history of the same cancers in relatives. 

A small fraction of patients is born with a biological predisposition to some cancers. For example, a germline, heterozygous genetic change with (almost) dominant inheritance is found in 5% of colorectal cancers, 5-10% of breast cancers, and 20% of epithelial ovarian cancers. 

In clinical practice, hereditary cancer syndromes are frequently underestimated and it is expected that this E-Learning module will help oncologists to identify the indications for referral to cancer genetic services, become familiar with the evaluation of a risk of developing cancer, become familiar with the construction of a family tree, and encourage reporting about hereditary cancers when they present a case to the tumour board. 

Besides the careful and detailed elaboration of each segment planned in the outline of this module, a lot of emphasis is put on education about genetic counselling as a communication process, which deals with the human problems associated with the occurrence or risk of occurrence of a genetic disorder in a family. 

This E-Learning module is specifically illustrated with examples in Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome and Lynch syndrome.

Declaration of interest

The author has reported no conflicts of interest.

Last update: 03 Sep 2018

This E-Learning module was published in 2018. The CME test expired in 2020.

This site uses cookies. Some of these cookies are essential, while others help us improve your experience by providing insights into how the site is being used.

For more detailed information on the cookies we use, please check our Privacy Policy.

Customise settings
  • Necessary cookies enable core functionality. The website cannot function properly without these cookies, and you can only disable them by changing your browser preferences.