Cancer prevention consists of understanding cancer incidence in populations, identifying appropriate risk factors for specific cancers, stratifying individuals according to these risk factors, and applying effective interventions to individuals (and sometimes populations) according to their risk status. Evaluation of hereditary risk of cancer is a vital component of risk stratification. Appropriate assessment of hereditary genetic risk can lead to significant changes in the clinical management of individuals who are found to have a hereditary cancer syndrome; conversely, it can identify individuals who are not at elevated risk despite having a strong familial history of cancer. Through cancer risk evaluation, with or without genetic testing for hereditary cancer syndromes, individuals with inherited genetic changes associated with increased predisposition of cancer can be identified prior to the development or diagnosis of cancer. Determining that an individual has a strong inherited predisposition to cancer provides an opportunity to intervene with prevention and screening strategies documented to reduce cancer incidence, morbidity, or mortality.
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