Marie-Claire King: Inherited Cancer Risk
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Marie-Claire King: Inherited Cancer Risk


One thing I like to say to men is: if you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your daughter. I have never met a man who would not do anything for his daughter. If it happens to save his life also, that’s okay too. I’m Mary-Clair King. I’m a geneticist at the University of Washington in Seattle. I’m interested in women and men who have inherited mutations, alterations in DNA, in critical genes. The genes that carry mutations that lead to very high risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer and prostate cancer are almost exactly the same. And the reason is biological. For breast cancer and ovarian cancer we’re getting increasingly good data about the proportions of these cancers that are the consequence of inherited mutations. What we do know about prostate cancer is that if we identify a gentleman who has a mutation that predisposed him to prostate cancer… Chances are he has a daughter. And that daughter has a fifty-fifty chance of inheriting that mutation. And if she has, that same mutation will predispose her to breast and ovarian cancer. So for men who learn that they have mutations in these genes, it’s important not only for them, so we can make sure they’re on appropriate screening regimens and any prostate cancer that develops is picked up very early. It’s also of enormous importance for their sisters and their daughters. I’ve been working in this field for 40 years. And in that 40 years have worked with thousands and thousands of families. And in those families have worked with thousands of men. And in all those years, the men have participated in the studies on behalf of their sisters and their daughters. Now, finally. We can give something back to them.

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