Is Cancer Hereditary from Parents?



Dr. Chetan Anchan

Orthopedic Surgeon and Oncologist

M.S. (ORTHO.), D. ORTHO., F. C. P. S.

is cancer hereditary


Some cancers are caused by inherited genetic mutations, which increase the likelihood of several family members contracting cancer. Isn’t it terrifying? But, before you get too worked up, there are a few things to bear in mind. To begin with, experts believe that inherited genetic abnormalities do not cause all cancers. Second, you should research your family and extended family history Finally, if you feel cancer is hereditary, you must consult your oncologist.

Causes of Cancer

Changes (mutations) in the DNA of cells cause cancer. Each gene in a cell has a collection of instructions that teach the cell what tasks to execute and how to develop and divide. Mistakes in the directions may cause a cell to cease functioning normally and even lead it to become malignant.

Gene mutations may develop for a variety of causes, including:



    • Inherited Mutations : You might be born with a genetic mutation that your parents passed down to you. However, only a tiny fraction of tumours are caused by this mutation.
    • Acquired Mutations : Most gene mutations happen after you’ve been born and aren’t passed down via your family. Smoking, any kind of long-term inflammation in the body, viruses, exposure to radiation & cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), imbalance of hormones, being overweight, and a sedentary lifestyle are factors that may trigger DNA alterations.

Gene mutations are common in normal cell growth. But, cells have a system that identifies when a mistake is made and corrects it. Sometimes, an error gets overlooked. This has the potential to turn a cell malignant.

Also Read : What Are the Early Warning Signs of Ovarian Cancer?

Risk Factors of Cancer

risk factors of cancer
The following mutations and disorders are mentioned in cancer treatment:

● BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genetic Mutations : Women who inherit a BRCA (Breast Cancer) genetic mutation have a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. In addition, men who inherit the BRCA mutation are more likely to get breast and prostate cancer.

● Cowden Syndrome : Mutations in the PTEN gene are the cause of this condition. A woman who has this condition has a higher risk of breast and uterine cancer. Thyroid cancer is also elevated in both women and men due to the alterations.

● Familial Adenomatous Polyposis : Mutations in the APC gene cause this condition. Certain mutations increase colorectal cancer risk. They may also raise the risk of brain tumours and soft tissue malignancies.

● Li-Fraumeni Syndrome : The TP53 gene is mutated in most persons with Li-Fraumeni syndrome, an uncommon genetic disorder that increases the risk of several different forms of cancer. Soft tissue sarcomas (tumours of the fat, blood vessels, nerves, bones, muscles, joints, or deep skin), lung cancer, breast cancer, brain tumours, leukaemia, and adrenal gland cancer are most prevalent.

● Lynch Syndrome : This condition, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), increases the risk of colorectal cancer by causing mutations in the DNA mismatch repair genes MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, or PMS2. In addition, Muir Torre syndrome and Turcot syndrome are caused by variants of these mutations, which increase the risk of some skin cancers and brain tumours, respectively.

● Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN) : There are two kinds of MEN syndrome: MEN1 is caused by a mutation in the MEN1 gene and mutations in the RET gene cause MEN2A and MEN2B. These mutations raise the risk of endocrine system malignancies.

● Von Hippel-Lindau Disease : This condition, caused by VHL gene mutations, produces abnormal blood vessel development (known as hemangioblastomas or angiomas) and raises the risk of kidney and other malignancies.

Role of Genetics in Cancer

A gene mutation may inform a healthy cell:

Allow rapid development : A gene mutation might cause a cell to divide and expand quickly. This produces a large number of new cells with the same mutation.

Enable uncontrolled cell growth : Healthy cells understand when to end the growth so that the quantity of each kind of cell is accurately ideal. Tumor suppressor genes, which instruct cancer cells when to quit growing, are lost in cancer cells. As a result, cancer cells keep dividing and accumulate due to a mutation in a tumor suppressor gene.

Commit errors when restoring DNA : DNA repair genes seek and fix mistakes in a cell’s DNA. These mistakes may not be fixed if there is a mutation in a DNA repair gene, leading to accumulation of malignant cells.

These are the most prevalent types of cancer mutations. However, numerous additional gene alterations may have a role in cancer development.


Also Watch, Hereditary causes of liver cancer 

How to Reduce the Genetic Risk of Cancer

While it is impossible to correct the inherited mutation,some acquired mutations can be preventedby controlling the risk factors. Doctors have found various techniques to lower your cancer risk, including:

● Quit Smoking : Quit smoking if you’re a smoker. However, don’t start smoking if you don’t already. Smoking has been related to a variety of cancers, including lung cancer. Stopping now will lower your cancer risk in the future.

● Avoid Overexposure to the Sun : The sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation might raise your risk of skin cancer. Stay in the shade, wear protective gear, or use sunscreen to reduce your sun exposure.

● Maintain a Proper Diet : Consider eating a fruit and vegetable-rich diet. Choose whole grains and lean meats. Processed meats should be consumed in moderation.

● Keep Your Weight in Check : Becoming overweight or obese might raise your cancer risk. However, by combining a nutritious diet and regular exercise, you may reach and keep a healthy weight.

● Stop Drinking Alcohol or Consume : Consume alcohol in moderation if you wish. Guidelines suggest that ladies may have up to one drink per day, and men can have up to two drinks per day if they are healthy adults.

● Inquire with Your Physician about Immunizations : Hepatitis B, which raises the risk of liver cancer, and human papillomavirus (HPV), which raises the risk of cervical cancer and other malignancies, may be prevented through vaccinations. Consult your doctor to see whether you should be immunised against certain viruses.


The first step is to schedule an appointment with a genetic counsellor, who will ask you questions about your family’s history and assist you in determining whether or not testing is appropriate for you. Consulting a genetic counsellor will help ensure that the necessary tests are conducted and that the findings are accurately understood.