Mar 6, 2024 - Health + Traits

23andMe Launches New Genetic Reports on Common Forms of Cancer

Cancer PRS Reports Blog 2x

This week, 23andMe released new reports on three of the most common types of cancer — breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer

The new reports use thousands of genetic variants associated with the disease to assess a person’s likelihood of an individual developing one of these cancers.

The reports are based on statistical models known as polygenic risk scores (PRS), developed by 23andMe through its proprietary research database. These new PRS reports were developed by 23andMe scientists and clinical experts using the company’s massive database of genetic and self-reported health information contributed by consented research participants.

The New Cancer PRS Reports

The new 23andMe PRS reports focus on some of the most common cancers for which genetics are often a factor, noting where some customers may have an increased likelihood of developing these conditions relative to the average. This is important because averages can mask significant differences – some people have a higher chance of developing cancer, and some have a slightly lower chance due to genetics and other factors. Significantly, healthy lifestyle habits can offset an increased genetic likelihood of developing these diseases, while routine screening can help with early detection.

Breast cancer affects, on average, one in eight females, while prostate cancer affects about one in eight males, and colorectal cancer impacts about one in 25 people.

For these reports, depending on the type of cancer and the member’s ancestry, up to 5-to-30 percent of our current 23andMe+ Premium and 23andMe+ Total Health members will see an increased likelihood result. 

It’s important to note that these three new cancer reports — Breast Cancer PRS Report*, Prostate Cancer PRS Report*, and Colorectal Cancer PRS Report* — augment or work in parallel with three existing Genetic Health Risk reports* that look at select variants associated with these types of cancers. 

Although each report examines how a customer’s genetics can impact the chances of developing cancer, the reports differ in several ways. One way to look at them is to consider the different causes of cancer.

Cancer can be caused by rare genetic variants that have a significant impact on the risk of developing cancer. These highly impactful variants are part of our Genetic Health Risk reports. Other times, cancer can be influenced by thousands of common variants that each have a small effect on the likelihood of developing cancer. But a lot of small impact variants can make a big impact. 23andMe’s new PRS reports consider many common variants to report the likelihood of developing cancer. It’s these common genetic variants combined with lifestyle and environment that cause the majority of cancer.

23andMe’s existing Genetic Health Risk reports include the BRCA1/BRCA2 (Selected Variants)* report, the Hereditary Prostate Cancer (HOXB13-Related)* report, and the MUTYH-Associated Polyposis (MAP)* report. If a customer has an increased risk detected in one of those reports, they will not receive a result for the related PRS report.

A Caveat Regarding the New Colorectal Cancer Report

The new colorectal cancer PRS report is only available for those of European and Latino/Hispanic descent, as there is not yet enough data to provide a result for those of other ethnicities – a historical issue with genetic research and polygenic scores at large. As the number of customers opting to participate in our research grows, we may be able to improve the model performance within these groups. 

To help address this issue, 23andMe recently launched Genetic Insights into Colorectal Cancer in the Black Community study, which invites individuals with African ancestry and/or who identify as Black or African American to participate. In the U.S., Black and African Americans have an increased chance of developing and dying from colorectal cancer compared to many other ethnic groups. We hope to use the insights gained from this study to help more customers understand their chances of developing the disease. In the fall of 2023, we updated our BRCA1/BRCA2 (selected variants) report to include 44 variants and improve its coverage for people of non-European ancestry. 

Find Out More About 23andMe’s New Cancer PRS 

The hope is that these new PRS reports will help our customers become more informed, alerting them to an increased likelihood of developing cancer that they would not have known otherwise.

The three new PRS reports are available to 23andMe+ Premium members and 23andMe+ Total Health members. Because these three new cancer reports cover similar conditions covered in three of our previously released sensitive reports—BRCA1/BRCA2 (Selected Variants), Hereditary Prostate Cancer (HOXB13-Related), and MUTYH-Associated Polyposis—we require customers to opt-in and view any tutorials associated with those sensitive reports in order to view their new cancer reports. 

While the new reports do not include suggestions for clinical action and do not diagnose cancer, they do highlight healthy lifestyle habits, the importance of keeping up to date with screening, and what to discuss with your healthcare provider.

Learn More

23andMe+ Premium members can find links to three new PRS reports on the new topic pages.

These new topic pages explain how the new cancer reports work with 23andMe’s existing Genetic Health Risk reports. In addition, the pages include information about the factors influencing the chances of developing one of these cancers and the importance of knowing your family health history.

These new topic pages will also be available to all 23andMe Health + Ancestry customers on the latest genotyping chip, V5. 

Find out all that 23andMe has to offer and compare our services here.


*The 23andMe PGS test includes health predisposition and carrier status reports. Health predisposition reports include both reports that meet FDA requirements for genetic health risks and PRS reports which are based on a statistical model that includes data and insights from 23andMe consented research participants, and have not been reviewed by the FDA.

The test uses qualitative genotyping to detect select clinically relevant variants in the genomic DNA of adults from saliva for the purpose of reporting and interpreting genetic health risks and reporting carrier status. It is not intended to diagnose any disease. Your ethnicity may affect the relevance of each report and how your genetic health risk results are interpreted. Each genetic health risk report describes if a person has variants associated with a higher risk of developing a disease, but does not describe a person’s overall risk of developing the disease. Each PRS report describes if a person has a certain likelihood of developing a condition, but does not describe a person’s overall likelihood.

The test is not intended to tell you anything about your current state of health, or to be used to make medical decisions, including whether or not you should take a medication, how much of a medication you should take, or determine any treatment. Our carrier status reports can be used to determine carrier status, but cannot determine if you have two copies of any genetic variant. These carrier reports are not intended to tell you anything about your risk for developing a disease in the future, the health of your fetus, or your newborn child’s risk of developing a particular disease later in life. For certain conditions, we provide a single report that includes information on both carrier status and genetic health risk.

Warnings & Limitations:

The 23andMe PGS Genetic Health Risk Report for BRCA1/BRCA2 (Selected Variants) is indicated for reporting of 44 variants in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The report describes if a person’s genetic result is associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer and may be associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and potentially other cancers.

The variants included in this report do not represent the majority of the BRCA1/BRCA2 variants in people of most ethnicities. The MUTYH-Associated Polyposis Genetic Health Risk Report is indicated for reporting the Y179C and G396D variants in the MUTYH gene and an increased risk for colorectal cancer. The two variants included in this report are most common in people of Northern European descent. The Hereditary Prostate Cancer (HOXB13-Related) Genetic Health Risk report is indicated for reporting the G84E variant in the HOXB13 gene. The report describes if a person has the G84E variant and if a male is at increased risk for prostate cancer. The variant included in this report is most common in people of European descent, especially in people of Northern European descent.

These reports do not include variants in other genes linked to hereditary cancers and the absence of variants included in this report does not rule out the presence of other genetic variants that may impact cancer risk. These reports are for over-the-counter use by adults, and provide genetic information to inform discussions with a healthcare professional. The PGS test is not a substitute for visits to a healthcare professional for recommended screenings or appropriate follow-up. Results should be confirmed by an independent genetic test prescribed by your own healthcare provider before taking any medical action.  For important information and limitations regarding genetic health risk reports, visit

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