Are genes responsible for cancer?

The pieces of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) in the cells that instruct the cells in the body about their growth and bifurcation are termed as genes. They control the functioning of cells and their life. According to the researchers, there are about 30,000 different genes in each cell of human body. They regulate the working of cells by making proteins and also acts as a messenger for the cells. Cancer usually spread when cells are mutated, or in other words, when the distribution of cells start spreading abnormally and they show a change in the process, cancerous cells start developing.

There are two types of genetic mutations:

Acquired Mutations: They often occur in a single cell and damage its genes during a human being’s life. In this case, it is not passed from parent to child. The cause of its occurrence is tobacco, viruses, ultraviolet (UV) radiations. They often result into sporadic cancer. It is the most common cause.

Germline Mutations: They are the less common cause. They are usually present in parent’s eggs or sperm cells. They are passed directly from the parent to their offspring.

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Cancer is one of the most common genetic diseases. Mutations work dangerously in causing cells to grow abnormally. An abnormal growth of cells often leads to the tumor that sometimes may be benign. But if those tumors are active, they invade surrounding tissues and travel in blood. With this, secondary tumors travel to other parts of the body and increase fatalities. You have more than 2 meters of DNA inside every cell, and are tightly coiled and fit in the body. It contains all the pieces of information that commands a cell about what task he has to perform. The genes can pick those mistakes that take place during cell division. Those mistakes are only termed as mutations. It can happen at any time in our lives.

There are other factors that may be responsible that may lead to cancer like:

  • Radiation
  • Tobacco
  • Harmful chemicals in the environment
  • UV radiations from the sun

The genetic changes that promote cancer can travel from our parents if they follow germline mutation process which are the reproductive cells of the body. Generally, the cancer cell has more genetic changes than the normal cells. As the cancer cells develop, other changes might also occur. If it is the same cancer, the cells may have different changes.

A kind of genes called oncogenes, commands the cell to grow and multiply. When the cells of cancer develop more rapidly in the body, it leads to cancer. There are some other genes that tell the cells to die. They are called self-destruction genes.

If you want to know whether you have a family history of cancer, there are some points that you must find out:

   1. Did any of your family member have cancer previously?

   2. Did your relatives have same cancer?

   3. At what age did cancer happen to them?

It must be remembered that cancer is more common in an older age rather than young generation.

Diagnosis of Cancer through genes:

Finding some mutations in the cell and testing them can effectively help in finding the diagnosis of the cancer cells. In some cases, specific changes in the gene could predict which patients will have better or bad outcome.

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A test called gene expression panels are usually performed to detect cancer. They can effectively predict whether a person will have cancer again after the treatment or not. There have been several drugs introduced as well that target the gene change in certain types of cancer. They also target the abnormal protein made by abnormal genes. DNA methylation is an important drug that turns genes off. They are helpful in the treatment of some genes that are abnormally methylated and usually result in the abnormal growth of cancer cells.

If you find out that you have gene fault, you should consult your doctor and he will give you a complete idea of what should be done to combat the cancerous cells.