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Usually cancer is not inherited, even in families with several people affected, since it is a common disease. However, some people are born with an increased risk of cancer, because they inherit an altered gene important for cell growth or for repair of damaged DNA, for example. Scientists have already identified some of the genes that predispose to breast and colon cancer. There are likely to be others.

Cancer cells.
Cancer cells.
David Becker/Wellcome Photo Library

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