This information explains how having a mutation in the CHEK2 gene may affect you and your family.
In this resource, the word “family” means people related to you by blood. They’re not related to you through marriage or adoption. We also call these family members your blood relatives.
Your CHEK2 gene normally helps prevent cancers. A mutation in this gene causes it to stop working like it should.
It is important to understand that having a mutation in this gene does not mean you will definitely develop cancer. It means that you have an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers. The type of cancer can vary among people who have mutations in this gene, even within the same family.
What is my cancer risk if I have a CHEK2 mutation?
A CHEK2 gene mutation increases your risk for certain types of cancers. Your cancer risk may be different depending on the specific CHEK2 mutation you have. Most CHEK2 mutations increase your risk for breast cancer.
Some of the most common CHEK2 mutations slightly increase your risk for colorectal (colon and rectal) cancer.
While a CHEK2 gene mutation means you have a somewhat higher risk of developing cancer than the average person, it may not fully explain why your blood relatives have cancer.
As we learn more about these mutations, we may learn they increase the risk for other types of cancers. Your genetic counselor will give you more information about your cancer risk if you have a mutation.
To learn more, read Hereditary Breast Cancer.
What can I do about my cancer risk if I have a CHEK2 mutation?
Your genetic counselor will review your results. They will talk with you about what cancer your mutation is linked to. As we research these mutations, we may learn they raise the risk for other types of cancers.
Your genetic counselor will also review your personal and family history of cancer and give you cancer screening recommendations. They may recommend you start having cancer screenings at a younger age or have them more often than most people. They may also suggest you get specialized screenings to help find cancer as early as possible.
Some examples of these cancer screenings include:
- Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and mammograms (X-rays of your breast).
- Colonoscopies starting at an earlier age and more often than most people.
Your genetic counselor will also talk with you about whether there are any other screening or prevention options that may be right for you.
What does a CHEK2 mutation mean for my blood relatives?
If you have a mutation, your biological parents, siblings, and children each have a 50% chance of having the same mutation. Your distant family members may also be at risk for having the same mutation.
Males and females have an equal chance of passing down a mutation in their family. You only need to inherit a mutation from one parent to have an increased risk for cancer.
Your genetic counselor will review your family history and talk with you about whether they recommend genetic testing for your blood relatives.
What happens if I do not have a mutation?
If you do not have a mutation or if we find a variant of uncertain significance (VUS), your genetic counselor will review your personal and family history of cancer. They’ll talk with you about the general cancer screening guidelines you should follow.
A VUS is a change in a gene, but we don’t yet know if it is linked with a higher risk for cancer. Most VUS are eventually found to be normal changes that do not affect your health.