14 June, 2021

Cancer And Genes: A Patient’s Guide

Genetic counselling and ­testing are extremely helpful in ­understanding the risks one might face, says Dr Sudhir Borgonha

Dr Sudhir Borgonha
Chief medical officer at Strand Life Sciences
Cancer And Genes: A Patient’s Guide

 Is it all in our genes?

Almost all cancers (expect a few) are driven or caused genetically. Cancers are either somatic or inherited. Somatic cancer occurs due to genetic changes in our body arising from external factors such as diet, environment, smoking, exposure to radiation etc. In a few cases, people are born with a gene mutation that they inheri­ted. This damaged gene increases the risk of cancer. This is referred to as hereditary cancer.

How do rogue genes work?

Inherited cases of breast cancer are linked to two abnormal genes: BRCA1 and BRCA2. Everyone has BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. They help repair cell damage, and keep breast, ovarian and other cells growing normally. When abnormalities (or mutations) in these are inherited, the genes don’t function normally, and the risk for breast, ovarian and other cancer risk increases. Having the gene doesn’t mean they have cancer. It just means the risk is higher.

Should one take a gene test?


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