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A Cancer in the Family: Take Control of Your Genetic Inheritance
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A Cancer in the Family: Take Control of Your Genetic Inheritance

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  126 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Oncologist and cancer gene hunter Theo Ross delivers the first authoritative, go-to for people facing a genetic predisposition for cancer
There are 13 million people with cancer in the United States, and it’s estimated that about 1.3 million of these cases are hereditary. Yet despite advanced training in cancer genetics and years of practicing medicine, Dr. Theo Ross was
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by Avery
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Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing

An empowering informative book about cancer genetics and family.
What an excellent book! Please, please, please read this if you have doubts, or even know you have hereditary familial cancer. It's full of information and one of the best bits is it doesn't read like a text book. Theodora Ross connects with her reader, I feel she brings science down to level where almost anyone can understand it.

'Cancer doesn't wait for you to get your paperwork in order!'

A supportive book about cancer genetics an
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There are books that represent such a singular experience and expertise that they can only be written by one person. “A Cancer in the Family” is such a book, and Dr. Ross is that individual. This book is written in the voice of a friend, and deftly combines Dr. Ross’s own very personal story with her clinical and research expertise in a way that is compassionate and approachable while providing gentle guidance to the reader.

While this is a book about cancer, it is not without humor and levity m
Laurence Krenis
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
We have come a long way from the days in which cancer was embarrassedly referred to as “the Big C”, and then dropped totally from conversation. Since those days many new diagnostic and therapeutic measures have evolved, but only lately has the realization that many predispositions to cancer development have their bases in mutant genes which ordinarily protect the body from malignancy. Scientists and clinicians are now working on identifying, classifying and detailing the cancer-provoking risks o ...more
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Cancer in the Family: Take Control of Your Genetic Inheritance is a guide to inherited cancers that is written for the patient. Theodora Ross, M.D., Ph.D. has an excellent background and experience in cancer genetics. She has cancer on both sides of her family and that is part of the reason that she decided to go into the field. She has the BRCAI mutation. Her personal introduction to cancer was a melanoma. She was young, olive skinned with dark brown eyes and hair. Why did she get melanoma, ...more
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a young woman and daughter of a cancer survivor, this book was the perfect thing to read during my mid 20s. I have always had many questions about cancer, but have been unsure of where to go for answers. A Cancer in the Family was immensely helpful and finally provided the answers I had been seeking. In addition to providing much needed information, this book was wonderfully well written and told a story that I genuinely wanted to keep reading. As both a scientist and cancer-survivor, Dr. Ros ...more
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I did not read the entire book carefully, not because that I found the book bad or not worthy. Nothing like that. It's more of a handbook and guide than a pop science book. I think only people are in doubts and in need will make full use of the book. For me, I've learned a few things from it, but I think there is how much more one can gain from it if they are more motivated than me. That is to say, people who think they are at risk of hereditary cancer. The arrangements of content is very clear, ...more
Carol Ryan
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For whatever reasons, my parents always lived at least 1000 miles from relatives. So, I lack much health information about my extended family. After reading 'A Cancer in the Family: Take Control of Your Genetic Inheritance' I realize even close families often hide cancer experiences from relatives. My ignorance on this topic is, alas, rather common.

Dr Theodora Ross tells a personal and professional true story that convinces me to investigate my own family's health history. If I find there are ca
J. Ewbank
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: health, medical
Dr. Ross has given us a book of exceptional help. We do not know everything about the genetic inheritance, but we do know some and we are learning all the time. She brings us up to date in this rapidly growing, or exploding field with what problems we find in our genes and how they may or may not affect us or others in our family. It was fascinating to read about the problems with our genes and some of the ways we have used our knowledge to fight the diseases that certain of us are susceptible t ...more
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
n Dr. Ross's insightful new book, we are allowed to see the human being behind the lab coat. She navigates the difficult journey from her own cancer diagnosis to tracing its roots through her family tree with emotional honesty. Her large family acts much like the rest of ours would when facing a cancer crisis, displaying secrecy, denial, fear and ultimately love, strength and courage. With this very readable book, 'A Cancer In The Family' lets us feel like we have a cancer specialists sister, an ...more
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a pretty good book for someone who has a family history of cancer and isn't quite sure where to start in thinking about it. The main focus is on genetic testing for mutations related to cancer and what the process for that looks like, what types things people should consider in choosing people to help them through the process and what they can expect from the process. That said, it does go a little bit into how cancer develops and why having a "cancer gene" isn't necessarily a cancer sen ...more
Mari Reive
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Love love loved this book. This is a must read for anyone who might have genetic mutations that predispose them to cancer. Dr Ross has laid the facts out in a most helpful way, even using her own family to help illustrate the facts.

As we know genetics play such an important part in our health, I am hoping that Dr Ross and researchers like her will help the adoption community get access to their heritage that a lot of us don't have.
Cheryl Maloney
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Ross has written a very accessible book on a difficult topic that she approaches through the lens of her own family. Readers navigating the waters of their own genetic inheritance will find this not only thorough in its research and information, but also supportive of the emotional trauma and misunderstandings that surround the world of cancer. This is a wonderful resource and compelling read.
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a Netgalley book that I was happy to review. The book was informative and interesting. Having lost a parent to colon cancer and knowing that I am at risk of getting the same disease, I was interested in reading this book on a personal level. I wish this book had been around when my mother was diagnosed. My only complaint was that the book did drag a bit and might have been pared down some, but over all it was worthwhile.
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I recommend this book to anyone who suspects they may have an inheritable cancer that runs in their family. The author gives a step by step guide to help the reader to find the truth and then to deal with it. Excellent guide.
John Barrett
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I heard Terry Gross rave about Dr. Ross' new book on NPR. She was right. It's a wonderful book. Originally I bought it for the science but ended up reading it for the story. It's a great read. Highly recommend this book.
Oct 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Good summary of inherited cancers. Makes the case for DNA testing and genetic counseling.
Susan Walker
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This could be a text book about cancer...but it is not. The Author tells the story of cancer in her own family and that keeps the book interesting and easy to relate to.
Connie Collins Johnson
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great book about how to deal with genetic information, how to decide if you should get it, and the implications. Written from the perspective of a physician with BRAC 1. Very informative
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Ross has an amazing way with words, people and science. This book is the perfect culmination of all three.
Nathan Albright
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: challenge2017
This author really wants you to like her.  This book has a dual aim, and the author's agenda depends a lot on her likability.  On the one hand, the more likable one, the author writes as a cancer survivor from a family with some secrets and truthiness regarding their background as well as their family medical history.  On the other hand, though, the author has the agenda of using her family story as a way of encouraging certain risky and serious medical procedures to proactively reduce the chanc ...more
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have had a lot of mixed feelings as far as genetic testing goes. My friends and I have had several discussions about it, and whether or not we would WANT to know if we have a predisposition to certain cancers and diseases. After reading only the first few chapters of this book, Dr. Theodora Ross is able to empower the reader to make an informed decision on whether or not to seek genetic testing. She explains her medical path, her own diagnosis, and her studies in the genetic inheritance of can ...more
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
Cancer in the Family is part memoir, part cancer biology tutorial, and part genetic counseling sales pitch. The author's story is interesting, and her information is solid, but I just don't know who the intended audience of this book is. For example, the explanation of genetics is extremely basic, but the information she provides about treatment and risk factors would be hard to understand without some background in biology. I imagine this imbalance will leave half the audience bored and the oth ...more
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a great resource for anyone that has a family history of cancer or anyone who is interested in the subject. The book mainly focuses on medical treatments, explaining genetic mutations, and genetic counseling. I was expecting some information on lifestyle factors and how to reduce your risk, but that was not really touched on. Dr. Ross does not dumb down the science, so it might be a little challenging if you're not familiar with science, but she explains these concepts very well. You wou ...more
Amy Shainman
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a BRCA/Hereditary Cancer Advocate I was excited to read Dr. Ross' book. While I thoroughly enjoyed it, part handbook, part memoir, it's definitely worth the purchase just for the index! Pages 201-266 list inherited cancer syndromes by name and associated gene. Lifetime cancer risks associated with each syndrome are also spelled out in addition to current risk management guidelines for both women and men.

Those interested in health and science would enjoy this book.
Medical students and ALL DO
Lindsey Sparks
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book that I highly recommend to anyone who thinks there may be a heritary cancer in your family. It gives clear advice on what to look for and what actions to take and is empowering, not panic-enducing.
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
The author is an oncologist and cancer researcher. She uses her personal history with cancer and her discovery of a heritable genetic mutation to explain how to go about being an advocate for cancer patients and their families. She talks about how she missed the possibility of a heritable cancer in her own family until she was diagnosed at a young age with melanoma. The author discusses the process of collecting the information to be informed about your family history and the complexities of dec ...more
Robyn Gardner
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was so relatable and was written in a way that could be understood by even those with little to no medical knowledge. It expressed a lot of things I couldn't put words to, as one who has cancer in the family and a BRCA2 mutation. A great read!
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it
All of the reasons why you should keep a family medical history record.
My Book Strings
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Similar to The Emperor of All Maladies, this book is able to present information in an easy-to-understand way. It is a good mix of scientific explanation and personal experience. Dr. Ross’ book could have easily read like a text book, but it was nothing like that. It was very personal, at times uplifting, and in many ways enlightening. I thought it would simply be scary to find out that you are definitely predisposed to breast cancer, for example. I had never considered that it could be a relief ...more
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaway-wins
I was so happy when I won this book in a giveaway here on Goodreads. I have a long family history of cancer and I was anxious to see what Theodora Ross had to say about genetics and cancer. Anyone who has any doubts about whether they are at risk of getting cancer needs to read this. Very informative and I learned a ton from it. Thanks so much for giving us a book that addresses this serious issue!
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Theodora Ross, M.D., Ph.D., holds the Jeanne Ann Plitt Professorship in Breast Cancer Research and the H. Ben and Isabelle T. Decherd Chair in Internal Medicine, in Honor of Henry M. Winans, Sr., M.D. at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She specializes in cancer genetics.

Dr. Ross received her M.D. and Ph.D. from the Washington University Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) in St. Louis. She c

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