Genes are coded messages that tell cells how to behave. They control how our bodies grow and develop.
Genes are pieces of DNA that contain instructions on how to make proteins that the body needs to function, when to destroy damaged cells, and how to keep cells in balance.
Genes are responsible for determining hair and eye color, height, and your chances of getting certain diseases such as cancer.
Cancer is a disease caused by abnormal gene function. Cancer genes can be passed on to children if there is a mistake or fault in an egg or sperm cell.
All cancers develop because something has gone wrong or changed at some point in our life. A gene change can be caused by exposures to cancer-causing agents, also known as carcinogens, such as cigarette smoke or sunlight.
There are two types of cancer: inherited and non-inherited.
Inherited cancer is caused as a result of the genes you were born with. Genetic determinants of cancer are abnormal genes passed along from generation to generation. Inherited cancer means you have a gene or genes that can lead to cancer.
Non-inherited cancer is caused by a gene change that happens during your lifetime. Cancer caused by gene changes due to exposure cannot be passed on to your offspring.
There are two types of mutations: inherited and acquired (somatic).
An inherited mutation is present in the egg or sperm that forms a baby. A mutation is an abnormal change in a gene.
After the egg is fertilized by the sperm, it creates a zygote, which is a single cell that divides to create a fetus.
All cells in the body are formed from the first cell, the zygote. So, every cell in the body, including eggs or sperm cells, will carry the mutation and can potentially be passed down to the next generation.
We all have two copies of most genes, one from each parent. When someone inherits an abnormal copy in one of their genes, their cells have one mutation.
If the other copy in the gene stops working, the entire gene can stop functioning. If the gene that stops working was a cancer susceptibility gene, then you will be at risk of developing cancer.