Hereditydescribes the passing of DNA (genetic information) from parentto child. Although many people have a family member with a history of cancer, the vast majority of cancersare not due to heredity. Most cancersoccur by random chance, often the result of environmental conditions or lifestyle choices, or just normal aging.
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What percentage of cancer is hereditary?
Although cancer is common, only 5-10% of it is hereditary, meaning an individual has inherited an increased risk for cancer from one of their parents. This inherited risk for cancer is caused by a small change (called a mutation) in a gene, which can be passed from one generation to the next in a family.
Can cancer be inherited from parents?
Some faulty genes that increase the risk of cancer can be passed on from parent to child. These are called inherited cancer genes. This occurs when there is a fault in the genes in an egg or sperm cell at the time of conception. These faults on the initial sperm or egg cell are copied into every single cell in the body.
What causes cancer to be passed to children?
This inherited risk for cancer is caused by a small change (called a mutation) in a gene, which can be passed from one generation to the next in a family. When someone inherits this type of gene mutation from a parent, they have an increased risk to get a certain type (or types) of cancer.
What are some examples of inherited cancer?
Breast cancer, for example, is most well known among inherited cancer diseases. Mutations on the BRCA genes are often passed from parent to child, increasing the risk of various types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancer.