Is Cancer Hereditary?


Quick Answer

According to the American Cancer Society, abnormal genes that lead to cancer can be inherited, but the cancer itself is not inherited. Between 5 and 10 percent of all cancers is the direct result of gene defects passed from a parent.

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Full Answer

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the result of abnormal gene function. An abnormal change in genes is referred to as a gene mutation. The two kinds of gene mutations are inherited or acquired. Most cancers are caused by acquired mutations. While many cancer cases seem to run in a family, this is usually because of chance or exposure to a common toxin, as from cigarette smoking.

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