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How Cancer Runs In Family

How Cancer Runs In Family

Nowadays, cancer is a common disease. While some people are affected by cancer due to factors like obesity, smoking, tobacco consumption, and deficiency of sun rays, some people tend to inherit cancer genes from their parents. Usually, the mutated gene passed through inheritance causes cancer in an individual. About five to ten out of a hundred cases of cancer result from mutated or altered genes inherited from parents.

All types of cancer are due to the mutation of genes. Mutations are changes in DNA or genes that alter the mechanism of how cells divide in the human body.

How Cancer Runs In Family

Also Read: Ayurvedic Treatment for Cancer: A Holistic Approach

When many people from a family get cancer, it is usually because of a particular mutagen that causes changes in their DNA. It is known as inherited cancer. In family cancer syndrome, mutated/abnormal/altered genes pass from parents to their young ones. Such cancers might not be linked to a particular mutation, but they might be linked to similarities among family members. Such connected family members have higher chances of acquiring cancer.

The following cancers come under family cancer syndrome:

  • Rare type of cancers
  • Two or more varieties of cancers in one person (ovarian and breast cancer)
  • Cancers that might occur before the age of 20
  • Cancers start in a pair of organs (kidney, eyes)
  • Cancer occurs in many generations

The chances of acquiring these cancers are lower if the affected person is a distant family relative, and they are higher if the affected person is a close family member. Inherited cancer is also determined if relatives of only one parent are affected. Cancers like ovarian, breast, endometrial, and colorectal may have more chances of being passed on to the next generation.

How Cancer Runs In Family

Inheritance of cancer genes is of two types: dominant and recessive. In dominant inheritance, even one copy of the gene can cause the disease, while both copies of genes are needed to cause the disease in recessive inheritance.

How does inherited cancer take place?

A lot of genes are bound together to form DNA, which is present in the form of chromosomes in the cells of our body. We have 46 chromosomes, half from the father and the other half from the mother. Twenty-three chromosomes of the father are passed to the sperm, while in the case of the mother, it is given to the egg. Both the egg and sperm fuse to form the offspring. That means every individual has two copies of one gene. Any change in a gene may or may not pass from parent to child.

Also Read: Exploring Ayurvedic Oncology

How to check inherited cancer?

Firstly, get to know your family history. Check if anyone has had cancer in your family. Talk to a doctor about your concerns and know how you can take care of your health. Having an active lifestyle, a healthy diet, going for regular checkups, reducing Stress and preventive care can help. If necessary, you may ask the doctor for specific tests like genetic testing, colonoscopy, or mammogram.

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Reference: 

  1. Ramsey SD, Yoon P, Moonesinghe R, Khoury MJ. Population-based study of the prevalence of family history of cancer: implications for cancer screening and prevention. Genet Med. 2006 Sep;8(9):571-5. doi: 10.1097/01.gim.0000237867.34011.12. PMID: 16980813; PMCID: PMC2726801.
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