Cancer is not usually inherited, but some types – mainly breast, ovarian, colorectal and prostate cancer – can be strongly influenced by genes and can run in families.
10-15% of most cancers in women and men are due to inherited genetic mutations.
Hereditary cancer is caused by an inherited genetic mutation. It is typical to see a recurring pattern of cancer across two to three generations—like multiple individuals diagnosed with the same type of cancer(s) and individuals diagnosed with cancer much younger than average.
Familial cancer refers to cancer that appears to occur more frequently in families than is expected from chance alone. While no specific mutation has been linked to these cancers, familial cancer may have a hereditary component that has not yet been identified.
Sporadic cancer refers to cancer that occurs due to spontaneous mutations that accumulate over a person’s life. Sporadic cancer cannot be explained by a single cause. There are several factors, such as aging, lifestyle, or environmental exposure, that may contribute to the development of sporadic cancer. We all carry certain genes that are normally protective against cancer – they correct any DNA damage that naturally occurs when cells divide.