This blog will give you regular, high-quality information about cancer. You'll also get to meet the info team and get updates on our projects. We hope you find it useful. And if there are any topics you'd like us to blog about, just let us know.
If several members of your family have had cancer, you may be worried about your own risk and whether you have inherited a cancer gene. In this blog, our editor Elissia explains more about genes and cancer.
What are genes?
We inherit genes from our parents. Everyone has two copies of each gene – one from their mum and one from their dad.
There are genes in every cell in our body. They contain the information a cell needs to work properly. Our genes:
Genes and cancer
All cancers are caused by changes (mutations) in genes. There are two types of mutation:
Five facts about inherited cancer genes:
We have leaflets that you may find helpful if you are worried about your risk of developing bowel, breast, ovarian or prostate cancer.
If you are worried about cancer in your family
Remember most cancers aren’t caused by inherited cancer genes. Talk to your GP if you think cancer might run in your family. They may ask questions to assess your risk of cancer. Think about any close blood relatives who have had cancer. This means your parents, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
Your family may have an inherited cancer gene if:
It can be very difficult if you are worried about cancer in your family. If you think cancer might run in your family, speak to your GP. They can assess your risk, and arrange for you to see a genetics specialist if you need to. Talking to friends and family about your worries may also help. You can also talk to a genetic counsellor, or to our cancer support specialists by calling 0808 808 00 00.
Where can I find more information?
We have more information about cancer genetics in our booklet Cancer genetics, How cancer can sometimes run in families. It includes detailed information about genes and inherited cancers. We explain how genetic testing is done and some of the issues around having it. We also talk about risk-reducing treatments and screening, and offer support for coping with your cancer risk.
If you’re worried about a particular type of cancer in your family, we have a series of leaflets that you may find helpful:
Each leaflet gives information about cancer risk, what we know about the causes of that cancer type and support on how you may be able to reduce your risk.
We also have an online information tool you can use if you’re worried about your risk of breast or ovarian cancer. You can use the tool to help check your risk.
To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.
We're with you every step of the way
The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.
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