Sporadic Versus Hereditary Genetic Changes

Cancer is a disease caused by defective or damaged genetic material. Because our genetic material is entirely inherited, it may seem paradoxical that the majority of human cancers are sporadic and affect people "at random." In some kindreds, however, numerous family members develop cancers that may be considered familial, the affected individuals being genetically predisposed to develop malignancies. These familial cancer aggregations are relatively uncommon, but they have been extremely helpful in the identification of specific genes involved in some cancers.

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