Is Cancer Genetic?

Every year, a third of a million people in the UK are told they have cancer. At one level, every cancer is genetic because genes controlling cell division fail. In around 1 in 30 people with the commoner cancers, one copy of a gene is not working correctly from conception. Any cell that loses the remaining working copy can become a cancer. There are around 120 genes in this group, most notably the ‘breast cancer’ genes BRCA 1 and 2 and the less well-known mismatch repair genes. More than 300,000 people in the UK are carriers. Can we find them? Can we protect them? Can we learn from them how to reduce the cancer burden on the rest of the population? The answer to all three is yes.

This year’s lecture in conjunction with the Royal Society of Edinburgh and supported by the Cruden Foundation will be delivered by Sir John Burn, Professor of Clinical Genetics, Newcastle University.

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