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Do genetics influence lung cancer?

There are families in whom types of breast cancer and colon cancer occur extremely frequently because of alterations (known as mutations) in the genes (genetic material). Such cancers are called "familial" because they occur predictably and frequently within a family.

Scientists have identified mutations in the genes of lung cancer patients, some of which encourage the transformation of normal cells into tumor cells (so called "promoter genes") and some of which inhibit that transformation into tumor cells ("suppressor genes"). However, the presence of these genes is not a reliable predictors of tumor growth. Thus, not every person who possesses the "promoter gene" will get lung cancer and not everyone with the "suppressor gene" will avoid lung cancer.

In summary, there is no "familial" type of lung cancer which predictably occurs within a specific family. However, it is not uncommon for lung cancer to strike more than one individual in the family and this may be due both to reasons of exposure (cigarette smoke) and to a genetic tendency.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.