Inside An Inherited Risk
“What caused my cancer?” That is a question everyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer would love to know the answer. For the majority of people we cannot answer that question because the majority of cancer is believed to be sporadic or have no known cause. However, for 5-10% of people diagnosed with cancer, their cancer was caused by a genetic mutation they were born with. A genetic mutation is simply a change on a gene. We each have about 20-25,000 genes. Genes make proteins and proteins go out in the body and do the work. When there is change on a gene the question becomes can the gene still make a functional protein? Certain changes impact the functionality of the protein thereby increasing one’s risk for certain types of cancers. In the world of oncology our knowledge about inherited cancers is rapidly evolving and testing for such mutations is becoming increasingly widespread. While there is more information available to those impacted by inherited cancers than ever before, I want to offer an insight into what it looks like, on a more intimate level, to be impacted by a hereditary cancer syndrome.