Cancer continues to be a worldwide killer, despite the enormous amount of research and rapid developments seen during the past decade. It is the second leading cause of death, with the most common cancers being lung cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer. The development of cancer is complex and multi factorial. Many complex factors contribute to the development of the cells in the body and lead to the inability of the body to stop them from growing.
A genetic predisposition in cancer is an increased likelihood of developing the disease based on the person's genetic makeup that results from specific variations in the genes inherited from the parents. Even if a cancer-predisposing mutation is present in a family, not everyone who inherits the mutation will necessarily develop cancer as the development of the disease is the combination and interaction of the environment and the individual's genetics. Studies suggest that only 10-15% of the different cancers are hereditary, and the rest 85% can occur in any individual based on their lifestyle and environmental exposure.
Cancer-causing gene mutations need not always be inherited but can also be acquired. Acquired mutations are the changes developed in the person's cells in later time that are passed on to the new cells developed from the mutated cells. These are more common than inherited mutations that can be developed due to exposure to carcinogenic substances, tobacco use, passive smoking, radiation, and ultraviolet rays.
It is always suggested for an individual who has a strong family history of the disease to get the genetic testing done. Genetic tests are done to test the person's DNA and determine if he/she has an increased likelihood of getting affected with cancer. Although the testing does not help to alter the mutated genes, it helps in identifying the type of cancer. Trough testing cancer can also be detected at an early stage, thus preventing its spread to other parts of the body by providing effective treatment trough surgery or chemotherapy procedure and thus increasing the survival index of the affected individual.
It is recommended for an individual to get the testing done at least a decade before the indexed age of the affected family member. That is, if the family member is affected with cancer at the age of 50, then genetic screening should be done at the age of 40 or even before to identify the genetic predisposition.
Genetic testing done at the proper time has potentially important life-saving management implications and even reduce the risk of cancer with necessary interventions.
About Dr. Shabnam Bashir
Dr. Shabnam Bashir has time and again proved her extensive and versatile expertise as a Colorectal Cancer Surgeon. This is validated by the successful cases of patients that she has dealt with.Read More