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Basic cancer genetics 

Basic cancer genetics
Basic cancer genetics

Christine Patch

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date: 24 January 2021

The genetic factors underpinning the development of cancers are being discovered at an increasing pace. Cancers can have an acquired or an inherited genetic aetiology. Inherited cancer predisposition caused by a single gene mutation is normally inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion. Acquired caner at the cellular level may be caused by the loss of function of both copies of the gene acting in an autosomal recessive fashion. Gene mutations may act in different ways, some drive cell growth-oncogenes, others when the gene mutates fail to stop tumour growth – tumour suppressor genes. Other genetic mutations may cause normal DNA and cellular repair mechanisms to fail. Genetic testing may be used at the level of a tumour to inform treatment decisions or in an inherited cancer susceptibility syndrome to provide information and tailor screening and prevention strategies.

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