If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with cancer, then the odds are you’re researching treatment options, in addition to learning whether or not is cancer hereditary.
So is it inherited? Approximately five to ten percent of all types can be inherited. Because some are hereditary, this means that the changes in certain genes can be passed down from a relative. A person who inherits this type of gene change will be at a higher risk of developing cancer in their lifetime. Studies have resulted in a better understanding of the gene mutations that increase the risk of developing cancer; however, studies have not been able to identify the genetic causes for every type of cancer.
The Broken Genetic Link to Cancer
Not all type is hereditary, at least not in the true sense of the word. Explained, hereditary means that a person will definitely get a specific trait such as an illness or eye color from genes that are inherited from the parents. But the cause of cancer isn’t that simple. Cancer is not caused by a single gene, instead, cancer is typically an illness of older people. Most types of cancers will develop when a number of gene changes take place in a cell. This is known as sporadic cancer.
But it is possible for people to inherit mutated genes that can increase their risks of developing certain types of the disease. As an example, a woman who has a faulty BRCA one gene will have an eighty percent chance of developing cancer at some point in her life. However, this still means that one in five women who have this type of gene change won’t get cancer. About one in twenty cancers are due to the inheritance of a faulty gene.
It can be caused by faulty inherited genes include bowel, breast, ovarian, prostate, and melanoma and womb cancer.
Is ovarian and breast cancer hereditary? Yes. Both of it are common types of inherited cancer. Women who inherit these mutated genes have a higher risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer than women who do not carry these mutated genes.
Is Cowden syndrome hereditary? Yes. Cowden syndrome is characterized by several tumor like growths, in addition to an increased risk for certain type. Most people who have been diagnosed with Cowden syndrome will develop small growths that are non-cancerous. These growths will appear in mucous membranes and on the skin, but they can also appear in the brain or the intestinal tract. Individuals with Cowden syndrome will have an increased risk of developing malignant and benign tumors on the thyroid, breasts and uterus. This syndrome is associated with the phosphatase and tensin homolog gene.
Lynch syndrome can be characterized by the early onset of uterine or colorectal cancer, as well as extracolonic tumors. This type of cancer is caused by mutations found in the mismatch repair genes of the DNA.
A hereditary type of colon cancer known as gardener’s syndrome involves thousands of polyps that develop all throughout the gastrointestinal tract.
Rare Hereditary Cancers
LFS, also known as Li-Fraumeni syndrome is a genetic condition that’s rare and characterized by the increased risk of developing many different types of disease. It can develop in Li-Fraumeni syndrome can be diagnosed during adulthood, adolescence and even childhood. Most people with this syndrome have mutations in the TP53 gene. The most common types of cancers that are linked to this syndrome include adrenal gland and breast cancer, soft tissue sarcomas, brain tumors, leukemia, and lung cancer.
VHL, also known as Von-Hippel-Lindau disease is a disorder that’s characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels. These abnormal blood vessels can develop in certain parts of the brain or the retina and some parts of the nervous system. Some tumors can also develop in the pancreas, kidneys or adrenal glands. Individuals with Von-Hippel-Lindau will also have a higher risk of developing cancer of the kidneys. Almost all patients diagnosed with this disorder have mutations of the VHL gene.
MEN, or Multiple Endocrine Neoplasias syndromes was named due to the frequency of tumor development on the endocrine glands. The endocrine system is essential when it comes to regulating metabolism, sexual function, development and growth. The endocrine system is comprised of glands that will secrete hormones into the blood stream. These hormones will control a number of processes in the body. MEN 1 and MEN 2 are currently the distinct syndromes. Both 1 and 2 are similar but feature significant differences
When to Worry about Faulty Genes
It’s no surprise that many families have at least three or four members who have had suffered from it, considering it is such a common disease. But there are some types of cancers that seem to run in families, but usually this is because some families share risk factors such as smoking or alcohol abuse. It can also be due to other types of risk factors such as poor diet and obesity. In some cases, cancer is caused by a mutated gene that is passed along.
While this is usually referred to as inherited disease, the gene which can lead to cancer is inherited, not the disease itself. Only around five or ten percent of the cases are caused by genetic defects that are inherited by the parent. Usually, a common type of cancer in the family is caused by being exposed to a common toxin, such as cigarette smoke.
[box]So is Cancer Hereditary? Before you can determine whether or not it runs in your family, you should first gather some information. For each case, look at how closely related the family member is, how old they are, if they developed more than one type of the disease, did they have known risk factors such as smoking and what type it was. It in a close relative such as a sibling or parent is more cause for concern than cancer is a second or third cousin. Even if it was caused by a faulty gene, the chances of it passing on to you will be much lower with a distant relative.[/box]