Inherited genes, family history and cancer risk

Do certain genes cause cancer?

Only about five to ten per cent of all cancer cases result from specific inherited genes. Scientists have identified some inherited gene mutations that are linked to cancer, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, which increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers in particular, but these gene mutations are relatively rare.

People who inherit gene mutations such as these have a higher than average risk of developing some types of cancer, though it doesn’t mean they will definitely get cancer. You can lower your risk of developing many types of cancer by not smoking, followed by maintaining a healthy weight through keeping active and eating a healthy diet.

If you have a history of cancer in your family, or are concerned you may have inherited genes that increase your cancer risk, it is always best to speak to your doctor.


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