family cancer syndrome (FA-mih-lee KAN-ser SIN-drome)
A type of inherited disorder in which there is a higher-than-normal risk of certain types of cancer. Family cancer syndromes are caused by mutations (changes) in certain genes passed from parents to children. In a family cancer syndrome, certain patterns of cancer may be seen within families. These patterns include having several close family members (such as a mother, daughter, and sister) with the same type of cancer, developing cancer at an early age, or having two or more types of cancer develop in the same person. Examples of family cancer syndromes are hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, and Lynch syndrome. Also called hereditary cancer syndrome and inherited cancer syndrome.