Previvor is one of those words I had never heard of until I was suddenly thrust into the world as a previvor myself. I suppose I have technically been a previvor since the moment of my conception, but I did not know I was a previvor until a genetic test, fueled by anxiety over my family history of cancer, revealed the truth.
Previvor: A portmanteau of the prefix “pre-” and “survivor”
Previvor: Someone with a genetic risk factor for cancer who has not yet been diagnosed with cancer.
Previvors include a wide swath of people. Like me, you may be one and not even know it yet. Among the first to really claim the “previvor” title are the many women (and men) who have been diagnosed with a BRCA mutation. A DNA error that, thanks to celebrity advocates like Angelina Jolie, is well-known to cause an increased risk for both breast and ovarian cancer, but also prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer, among others. Though most who get tested for BRCA (both 1 and 2) are women, due to the risk of female-associated cancers, men can have the BRCA gene too, and it also increases their risk for breast cancer as well as the cancers mentioned above.
But BRCA is far from the only high risk cancer gene. In fact there are a wide variety of Hereditary Cancer Syndromes (HCS).
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