Symptoms of Cancer (Causes of Cancer and Genetic)

Symptoms of Cancer (Causes of Cancer and Genetic)

Symptoms of Cancer

Cancer is the most common human genetic disease. The transition from a normal cell to a malignant cancer is driven by changes to a cell’s DNA, also known as mutations. The cells in the human body work together, dividing and reproducing in a strictly controlled and coordinated fashion.DNA replication is an essential part of cell division  whereby the cell makes an identical copy of its genome? before it divides.Mistakes or ‘mutations’ can occur during DNA replication, changing the genome of the new cell being made.Most of these mistakes are quickly repaired by the cell’s machinery, but sometimes mistakes are missed and the change in the DNA remains.If these mutations occur in genes that control growth (proto-oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes) uncontrolled cell growth can occur, which can lead to tumour formation and cancer Proto-oncogenes encourage the cell to multiply. If these genes become mutated they tell the cell to multiply all the time and are then called oncogenes. Tumour suppressor genes stop the cell from multiplying. If these genes are mutated and stop working, the cells may carry on multiplying. To become cancerous, a cell must acquire mutations in several growth-controlling genes. In families with an inherited faulty gene there may be a pattern of specific types of cancer running in the family. Most people who have relatives with cancer will not have inherited a faulty gene. Cancer mostly occurs in older people. It is a common disease. 1 in 2 people in the UK (50%) will get cancer at some point in their lives. So, most families will include at least one person who has had cancer. Having a couple of relatives diagnosed with cancer over the age of 60 doesn’t mean there is a cancer gene running in the family. 

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The more relatives who have had the same or related types of cancer, and the younger they were at diagnosis, the stronger someone’s family history is. This means that it is more likely that the cancers are being caused by an inherited faulty gen.

You may have a strong family history if any of the following situations apply to you:

More than 2 close relatives on the same side of your family have had cancer – the same side of your family means either your father’s relatives or your mother’s relatives

The relatives have had the same type of cancer, or different cancers that can be caused by the same gene fault

The cancers developed when the family members were young, below the age of 50

One of your relatives has had a gene fault found by genetic tests

It is important to remember that cancer is most common in people over the age of 60 and is rarer in young people. So cancer in older people is less likely to be due to an inherited cancer gene.

Symptoms of Cancer

When trying to determine if cancer might run in your family, first gather some information. For each case of cancer, look at:

Who has the cancer? How are you related? Which side of the family are they on (mother’s or father’s)?

What type of cancer is it? Is it rare?

How old was this relative when they were diagnosed?

Did this person get more than one type of cancer?

Did they have any known risk factors for their type of cancer (such as smoking for lung cancer)?

Cancer in a close relative, like a parent or sibling (brother or sister), is more cause for concern than cancer in a more distant relative. Even if the cancer was from a gene mutation, the chance of it passing on to you gets lower with more distant relatives.

It’s also important to look at each side of the family separately. Having 2 relatives with cancer is more concerning if they are on the same side of the family. For example, it’s more concerning if both relatives are your mother's brothers than if one was your father's brother and the other was your mother's brother.

The type of cancer matters, too. It is more concerning if many relatives have the same type of cancer than if they have several different kinds of cancer. Still, in some family cancer syndromes, a few types of cancer seem to go together. For example, breast cancer and ovarian cancer run together in families with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC). Colon and endometrial cancers tend to go together in Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC).

By the same token, more than one case of the same rare cancer is more worrisome than cases of a more common cancer. For some rare cancers, the risk of a family cancer syndrome is relatively high with even one case. 

The age of the person when the cancer was diagnosed is also important. For example, colon cancer usually is rare in people younger than 30. Having close relatives under 30 with colon cancer could be a sign of an inherited cancer syndrome. On the other hand, prostate cancer is very common in elderly men, so if both your father and his brother were found to have prostate cancer when they were in their 80s, it is less likely to be due to an inherited gene change.

Symptoms of Cancer

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Cancers and Genetic

Breast cancer

Bowel cancer

Stomach cancer

Prostate cancer.

Genetic testing for Cancer

Cancer cannot be found using gene testing, but with the help of current genetics research we can detect some cancer-predisposing gene defects.

At present, there is no simple genetic test for those interested in being tested. Genetic tests are only used when there is clear evidence of a possible hereditary predisposition to cancer.

If the hereditary risk of cancer is a concern, you can find out more from the Cancer Society of Finland’s genetic counselling.

Things to remember

Latest research suggests that most cancers are caused by environmental rather than genetic factors.

The cancers with the highest genetic contribution include breast, bowel, stomach and prostate cancers.

Referral to a specialist cancer genetics service may be appropriate for people with a strong family history of cancer.

Certain things make it more likely that cancers in a family are caused by a family cancer syndrome, such as:

Many cases of the same type of cancer (especially if it is an uncommon or rare type of cancer)

Cancers occurring at younger ages than usual (like colon cancer in a 20-year-old)

More than one type of cancer in a single person (like a woman with both breast and ovarian cancer)

Cancers occurring in both of a pair of organs (like both eyes, both kidneys, or both breasts)

More than one childhood cancer in siblings (like sarcoma in both a brother and a sister)

Cancer occurring in the sex not usually affected (like breast cancer in a man)

Cancer occurring in many generations (like in a grandfather, father, and son)

genetic testing:

Genetic counseling involves a discussion of your personal or family history of cancer. It is typically recommended or individuals or families with multiple cases of cancer diagnosed at unusually young ages.

Genetic counselors will tell you about the scientific concepts that relate to genetic testing and help you decide what genetic tests, if any, might be useful for you.

Genetic testing involves a simple blood test and may be used to obtain a more precise estimate of your cancer risk. In some cases, genetic testing can be done on stored tissue samples from deceased relatives.

Genetic testing is not required for a cancer risk assessment. However, it may in some cases help you and your physician make important decisions about your medical care.

Deciding whether to undergo genetic testing is a personal choice that can be made at the time of the counseling session or at a future date. Genetic counseling does not require genetic testing, and genetic testing may not be useful for everyone receiving genetic counseling. Only about 5 to 10% of cancer cases are related to genetics,” says Karen Lu, M.D., co-medical director of the Clinical Cancer Genetics Program at MD Anderson. “Genetic testing is a powerful tool to identify those individuals who are at especially increased risk for developing certain cancers because of family history.”

You can inherit an abnormal gene from either one of your parents. And, if you inherit a gene linked to cancer, you’re much more likely to develop the disease — and at a younger age. Breast, colorectal, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic and endometrial cancers sometimes run in the family.

But most cancers are related to lifestyle choices like smoking, not exercising and eating unhealthy foods.

Genetic testing is now available for some hereditary cancers. If you have a family history of cancer, or if you would like to find out whether you or a family member has an increased likelihood of developing cancer, we encourage you to consult with a specialist who has experience in the area of hereditary cancer, cancer risk assessment, and genetic counseling and testing.

Symptoms of Cancer

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