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Dr. Tsubokura's Radiation Lecture Vol.99

Author: Masaharu Tsubokura

Editors: Akihiko Ozaki M.D., Yuki Senoo

197. An elevated risk of cancer could run in the family

According to recent statistics, in Japan, around one in every two people will develop cancer in his or her lifetime. Furthermore, cancer deaths account for one in every five deaths in the country. Cancer is one of the common diseases in the country.

There are various causes of cancer, including eating habits, heavy drinking and smoking, infectious diseases, and radiation exposure. In addition to these causative factors that are closely related to our lives and to the environment, it is known that cancer can be inherited as well. Needless to say, hereditary cancer does not mean that cancer cells themselves are inherited. Rather, it means that children inherit an increased cancer risk from their parents.

For instance, there is a condition called familial colorectal cancer that poses an elevated risk of developing colorectal cancer among the affected families. In this population, gene mutations that cause errors in deoxyribonucleic acid replication have been identified, and they contribute to cancer development.