While only 5–10% of cancers are thought to be linked to inherited genes, a cancer diagnosis in the family often prompts people to worry about their own risk. So do celebrity stories – after Angelina Jolie announced she carries the breast cancer gene, Macmillan’s online self-assessment tool for breast and ovarian cancer (see below) was visited 1,140% more than usual.
We’ve also heard of a sharp rise in women seeking information about hereditary breast cancer, going for tests and requesting surgery since Angelina Jolie had her double mastectomy. 
As it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we expect another rise in interest in the genetic risks linked to breast cancer. People may be reminded of their own vulnerability to the disease and be considering their risks.
For people who’ve had cancer (not just breast cancer), receiving information about genetics has been shown to be one of their least met needs, even though understanding and managing risk is key to further prevention and early diagnosis for themselves and relatives. 
With more people being diagnosed with cancer every year, and a bigger spotlight on cancer genes in the media, Macmillan are here to help your patients understand their own risk and what they can do.
Information booklets to complement your expert advice
We have a range of free information about cancer and genetics that your patients might find helpful to read in their own time. We have five handy leaflets that look at the risk of inheriting cancer in general, and more specifically bowel, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer. Our booklet on cancer genetics has more detail on cancer genes, inherited cancers, genetic testing and coping with a high risk. We also have a booklet on risk-reducing breast surgery. All of this information is on our website at macmillan.org.uk/genetics
Online self-assessment tool
You can also recommend our online tool OPERAto your patients who are worried about breast or ovarian cancer in their family. It asks a series of questions before giving a personalised risk assessment with further information and support. This gives people something concrete to discuss with you or their GP, to aid conversations and help people manage their own risk.
Spread the word
For any other questions or concerns about cancer genetics or any other aspect of cancer, call our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00, Mon–Fri, 9am–8pm.
 European Journey of oncology Nursing. Common, important and unmet needs of cancer outpatients. 2012