Genetic Cancer

Genetic Cancer

Cancer is a common disease and in every family at least one of the member suffers from cancer. But it doesn’t mean that families have a genetic predisposition to cancer. In most cases, cancer originates from the combined effects of genetics as well as some external influences like environmental and various lifestyle factors.

There are certain types of cancers that seem to run in some of the families. In some of the cases, it might be because of the family members sharing certain behaviours or exposures which can increase the risk of cancer like smoking. Also, the risk of cancer can be seen in some families because of obesity.

In certain cases, the cancer is caused due to the abnormal gene that is passed along from generation to generation. Sometimes this is referred to as inherited cancer, inherited is referred to the abnormal gene which will lead to cancer. But it’s said that only 5% to 10% of cancers can directly result from gene defects or inherited from parents.

Cancer and Mutations

Cancer is a disease where cells grow in the body abnormally. This happens due to the change in some of the genes inside cells. The effect of genes can be seen in hair, colour, eye colour and height. Also, there is a high chance of getting certain diseases like cancer. Every cell in our body has all the genes from when we were born. All the cells in our body have the same genes, different cells can use different genes.

When there is an abnormal change in the gene it’s called Mutation. The presence of a mutation in a gene will have a direct effect on its functions. For example, a mutation can stop the gene from working. Mutation can also keep a gene turned on all the time. These two can create a problem in the cell.

Gene mutation can be both inherited and acquired:

Inherited gene mutation: These are also called Germline mutations. It is present in the sperm cell which formed an infant. When the eggs are fertilized by sperm, this creates one cell that is divided many times and it forms a baby. It is the kind of mutation which is present in every cell and this can be passed on to the next generation.

Acquired Mutation: This is not from a parent but is acquired from the time later. It starts from one cell and is passed to other new cells which are created from that cell. This kind of mutation does not present the cells so they are not passed on to other generations.

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There are different factors that can cause mutations are:

  • Tobacco
  • Ultraviolet Radiation
  • Viruses
  • Age

Types of Genes linked to cancer

Tumor suppressor genes

These are called protective genes. They can limit the cell growth by:

  • They monitor how rapidly the cells divide in new cells.
  • Repair mismatch DNA
  • Keep control when the cell dies

If the tumor suppressor gene mutates the cells grow uncontrollably then they will form a tumor.

Oncogenes

This has the potential of changing the healthy cells into a cancerous cell. In this genes, mutations are not known to be inherited.

Two oncogenes are:

  • HER2

It’s a specialized protein which controls the growth and spread of cancer. These are also found in some of the cancer cells like breast and ovarian cancer cells.

  • RAS family of genes

It makes proteins involved in the cell communication pathways, cell growth and cell death.

DNA Repair Genes

This works as fixing the mistakes when DNA is copied. Many of these functions in tumor suppressor genes. If the person has an error in the DNA repair gene then the mistakes remain uncorrected. These mistakes then become mutations. This mutation will cause cancer.

How will you recognize a family cancer syndrome?

There is less chance of too many cancer cases in a family. But if a family has many cases then this is because they have exposed to common risk factors called smoking. Also, in some cases, there can be an interaction between certain genes and exposures.

Some of the major points through which we can know cancer is caused due to the family syndrome are:

  • Many cancer cases are of the same type
  • Cancer occurring at a younger age
  • If a person has more than one type of cancer
  • Cancer occurring in both pair of organs
  • More than one cancer in siblings
  • Cancers occurring at different generations.

Some of the common types of Genetic cancer that can occur are:

  • Breast or Ovarian Cancer
  • Lynch syndrome
  • Li-Fraumeni Syndrome

Genetic Counseling and testing

People who are having a strong family history of cancer need to know about genetic cancer. This will help them in planning and taking proper care and precautions for their future. As inherited mutation affects all cells in a person’s body then the samples would be collected from blood or saliva. Sometimes genetic testing is not effective for everyone so they can take genetic counselling from the Doctor. They can also go for a full body checkup for not getting any measurable disease.

FAQ's

A number of mutations are formed in a person’s body which can develop cancer. The type of cancer that belong to hereditary are breast, ovarian, colorectal and prostate cancer.

The three types of cancer genes are:

Tumor suppressor genes, Oncogenes, DNA repair genes

Yes, cancers are hereditary from parents. Some of cancer can come through genetics and some from exposure.

There is a chance of getting genetic cancer if your Mom is suffering. But you should consult your doctor for getting genetic counselling to be sure about the disease.

There is a chance of getting genetic cancer from your grandparents. But you should consult your doctor for getting genetic counselling to be sure about the disease.

Cancer that can be cured is thyroid, breast, prostate, and testicular

Yes, there is a chance of getting cancer if you’re not having a family history. This is because of the outside exposure to smoking and alcohol consumption in some cases.

Citations

  • Genetic Cancer: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10897-011-9462-x
  • Genetic Cancer Tests: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0091743502910315
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