Unlocking The Secrets Of Hereditary And Genetic Cancer: All You Need To Know
Unlocking The Secrets Of Hereditary And Genetic Cancer : Cancer remains a significant global health concern, affecting millions yearly. While environmental factors play a crucial role in cancer development, genetics and hereditary factors can also predispose individuals to certain types of cancer. Understanding cancer’s hereditary and genetic aspects is essential for prevention and treatment.
In this article, Dr Mansi Munshi, Consultant Radiation from Ruby Hall Clinic Pune, aims to shed light on the various aspects of hereditary and congenital cancer, from ethical considerations to common types of inherited cancers and genetic cancer risk.
What Is Hereditary Cancer?
Hereditary cancer refers to cancers caused by within a family. These mutations are typically present in every cell of an individual’s body and can increase the risk of developing specific types of cancer. Importantly, hereditary cancers are distinct from non-hereditary or sporadic cancers due to genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.
How Can Individuals Without A Known Family History Of Cancer Still Be At Risk For Hereditary Cancer?
Even in families with no documented history of cancer, hereditary cancer can manifest due to new mutations occurring in the germ cells (sperm or egg) or during early embryonic development. In these cases, an individual may be the first in their family to carry a cancer-predisposing genetic mutation, resulting in a lack of apparent family history. Additionally, specific gene mutations, like those associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (e.g., BRCA gene), can be silently carried by individuals and may only be expressed in subsequent generations, making it challenging to identify a clear family history of the disease.
Common Types Of Inherited Cancers
The most common types of cancers inherited from family members include breast, ovarian, colorectal, uterine, medullary thyroid, and certain rare cancers. It’s important to note that while some cancers, like Lynch syndrome-related colorectal and uterine cancers, have a higher probability of manifestation in carriers, not all individuals with the inherited mutation will develop cancer.
Ethical Considerations Surrounding Genetic Testing And Disclosure Of Hereditary Cancer Risk
Genetic testing for hereditary cancer risk raises critical ethical considerations. Privacy, informed consent, potential psychological and emotional impacts, discrimination in employment and insurance, and the responsibility of sharing genetic information with family members are critical factors. Counseling and support are crucial to address these concerns and guide individuals in making informed decisions about genetic testing and disclosure of results.