Hereditary Cancers
Is Cancer Hereditary?

Is cancer hereditary? Hereditary cancers are results of or are caused by changes or a cell mutation in germ cells. These germ cells are the egg and the sperm cells.

Any change that occurred in the DNA can be passed on to the organism's offspring. When transmitted to a child, the DNA mutations are incorporated in every cell of the child's body.

Such changes in the germ cells are also called germline or hereditary mutations. In hereditary cancers, the cell mutation is passed from the parent to the child and from generation to generation.

For a population, a genetic mutation provides the source of genetic variation. Genetic variation makes evolution possible. It means it is what makes a species unique and different from other species.

For an individual organism, changes are rarely beneficial and many actually cause genetic mutations that may lead to diseases including cancer.

The type of DNA mutations responsible for inherited cancers are present throughout a person’s life in virtually every cell in the body.

DNA changes in the germ cells play a key role in human genetic diseases such as hemophilia and diabetes. They play a very important role, too, in certain cancers such as . . .

A genetic mutation is acquired in a single body cell. And the surprising fact is that it is more likely to occur in the sperm than in the ovum. A larger number of cell divisions are involved in the production of sperm.

Genetic mutations may also occur in a single cell within an early embryo or a zygote. As all the cells divide during growth and development, the human will have some cells with the mutation and some cells without the genetic change. This situation is called mosaicism.

If a genetic mutation is involved, what was once an abnormality may become so common in certain populations that it emerges as the norm.

Five to 10% of cancer cases are hereditary cancers that are caused by genetic mutations. What is responsible for the 90-95% of cancers is another type of genetic mutation which is known as somatic mutation.

Related Facts:

Genetic or DNA Mutations in Your Cells

Benign Tumor - An Effect of DNA Mutations

Malignant Tumor

Somatic Mutation

Return from Hereditary Cancers to Genetic Mutations

Return from Is Cancer Hereditary to Cancer Prevention

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