What do we know about bowel cancer?

Most bowel cancer is not inherited and is found more frequently in people who have low-fibre, high-fat diets. However, 5-10% of affected people do have an inherited form of the disease. Scientists have identified several genes involved in hereditary bowel cancer. These genes normally make proteins that repair damage to other genes, preventing abnormal cell growth. A person who inherits a changed form of any of these genes has a high risk of developing bowel cancer, regardless of their diet and lifestyle.

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DNA analysis for colon cancer. The lower arrow points to the mutation that has caused colon cancer in the oldest son in this family. None of the other sons has the mutation.

What do we know about breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. In most cases, a family history of the illness does not mean it is inherited. But 5-10% of affected women do have an inherited form of the disease, usually with earlier onset. Scientists have identified two genes that are altered: BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genes normally make proteins that repair DNA damage, preventing abnormal cell growth. A woman who inherits a changed version of either of these genes has a high risk of developing breast cancer.

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DNA analysis for breast cancer. Each lane shows a different person's DNA. The arrows point to a mutation in the DNA of one patient.

 

Principal Funder:

Wellcome trust

Major Sponsors:

GlaxoSmithKline life technologies