Genetics and multiple myeloma
Most people who develop multiple myeloma have no known risk factors and no family history of the disease. However, some people with multiple myeloma have a gene mutation (difference in a gene) that they inherited from their mother, father, or both parents, causing an increased risk for developing cancer.
Normally, these genes produce proteins that help repair DNA and control cell growth, preventing tumors from forming. But inherited mutations in either gene can cause cells to grow abnormally and out of control, leading to cancer.
What is genetic testing?
Genetic testing is done by a blood or saliva test. The blood or saliva sample is analyzed by a medical test that identifies changes in genes, chromosomes, or proteins.
We often use multi-gene testing to look for other gene mutations related to inherited risk for multiple myeloma.
Before undergoing any genetic tests, talk to your doctor and a genetic counselor to understand the risks and benefits, as well as other issues.
Who should consider genetic testing?
Inherited cancer risk gene mutations are fairly rare. Medical experts recommend testing for people who have specific risk factors, including:
- Family member (parent, sister or brother, child, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, aunt, or first cousin) with an inherited gene mutation related to multiple myeloma
- Close family member with a history of multiple myeloma
If you have your family’s medical history, you can bring it to your first appointment. If not, your doctor will discuss your personal medical history with you and help you decide if you want to get genetic testing. Our genetic counselors can help with family communication and work with you to gather the history.
Why have genetic testing?
Whether the results show a gene mutation or not, genetic testing can benefit you and your family. The results can:
- Identify the level of cancer risk a person may have and the types of cancer for which they may be at risk
- Provide information to guide decision-making for cancer prevention and early detection
- Identify family members who are at high risk, as well as those who are not