Cancer is a disease caused by the accumulation of DNA mutations and epigenetic alterations. Unrestrained cell proliferation takes place due to these alterations resulting in neoplasm formations. The genes which have the potential to cause or induce cancer of cells, are called oncogenes. Oncogene mutations can be either acquired or inherited.
Acquired mutations which are formed during a person's lifetime are the most common cause of cancerous growths. There are several risk factors and high-risk groups within this disease. The biggest risk factors for acquired or sporadic cancers are tobacco, UV radiation exposure, certain viruses and age. (Cancers that occur due to acquired mutations are also called as Sporadic cancers.) Acquired mutations are not passed from parents to children.
Next, we have the category of inherited gene mutations, which are less common and inherited from our previous generation. (Cancers caused by inherited mutations are called Germline Cancers.) The risk factors associated with germline cancers are family history and ethnicity. Genomic testing can help diagnose and detect these cancers at a much earlier, thereby reducing mortality and saving lives. The risks associated with germline cancers are drastically reduced with genetic counselling and taking genomic tests for single-gene or entire genomic sequences. Germline cancers can be treated with treatment and medication protocol determined by pinpointing the exact gene(s) causing the cancer.
The fight against cancer is winnable, and with growing research and breakthroughs in diagnostic pathways for cancer screening and treatment, the odds are growing in our favour.
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