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A CANCER IN THE FAMILY by Theodora Ross Kirkus Star


Take Control of Your Genetic Inheritance

by Theodora Ross

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-101-98283-9
Publisher: Avery

A valuable resource for those wondering whether there is a chance that cancer runs in their family.

Ross (Director, Cancer Genetics Program/Univ. of Texas Southwestern Medical Center) has the ideal background: oncologist, cancer survivor who carries a cancer gene mutation, and cancer gene researcher with a mission to help people. She sends an upbeat message that learning about a cancer mutation in one’s family history is not about coping with bad news; it is about taking control and making choices. Although readers learn about the author’s decision-making process when she discovered the risks of her mutant gene, she does not claim that they were the best choices at the time nor does she prescribe what choices others should make. She organizes her information with great care and clarity, and thankfully, she lightens the reading with her personal story and those of the cancer patients she has known. Ross explains how cancer mutations are passed through families, how to recognize the signs of a cancer mutation, how to create a revealing family tree, how to get genetic counseling and genetic testing, and how to tell family members that they may be at risk, often information they may not want to hear. Furthermore, she describes how to manage one’s risk when experts give conflicting information or when information is limited. The chapter on targeted treatments, subtitled “Realities, Myths, Possibilities,” is sometimes a bit technical, but Ross calmly advises readers to evaluate current research on new treatments in the same way they researched their family history: with persistence, honesty, and toleration for the discomfort of not knowing. Appendices provide additional practical information on inherited cancer syndromes and their risk management, and a resource list contains the names and websites of helpful support organizations.

Highly recommended: an exceptionally well-organized, authoritative, and readable resource book.