The One that Went Awry; Genes and Cancer

Cancer is genetic in the sense that altered genes activate it is a disease of genes gone wrong. A healthy body depends on the interaction of thousands of genes that manage the systematic reproduction of cells. When these genes are damaged they allow the cells to replicate unchecked, which then extend to other tissues and form growths.

Cancer is inherited to a small degree because of a mutation in cells that is passed from parents to children over generations. Scientists are working hard to discover why this happens and have zeroed in on the inherited gene.

Environmental factors like radiation and chemicals also play a part but most cancers come from the indiscriminate alteration that develop in body cells during a person’s life.

You are at a 50% risk for cancer if either of your parents has the cancer gene or if more than two family members on the same side of the family have had the same kind of cancer. It is not definite, however, that you will get cancer but there is a possibility of increased risk.

But since you may not be at risk even if you have inherited the gene the mutation may seem to skip a generation and manifest itself in your children. There are some genetic maladies that can increase your risk of getting different types of cancer at a young age but these are rare.

A physician or a genetic consultant can help you find out how much of a risk you are at of having inherited a cancer gene. If they decide that you are genetically susceptible then you can talk to a cancer specialist. Again, even if you have inherited the cancer gene it is not definite that you will get cancer.

These professionals will help you determine your personal risk and perhaps ask you to go for a screening or a genetic test. Genetic tests are not offered to everybody as only a few genes involved in inherited cancer have been found and can be tested for.

Also, the testing is based on family so if you were adopted for example, the test may not be relevant. You can also take part in research studies that are trying to determine cancer genes. Before going for a genetic test be very sure that you are ready to hear the results. Take your time before deciding on going for such a test and prepare for whatever the outcome maybe.

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