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Cancer Genetics

Is Cancer Genetic

10/27/2009

Question:

There is a guy who I know, both his parents died of cancer when he was very young, i.e. both parents were less than 40 when they died of cancer. I don’t know what type of cancer as I haven’t had an opportunity to ask this question (it appears very rude). We both like each other but I am not sure if I should commit and marry him, as I fear he or the children he will have will have higher chances to have cancer. Please suggest how severe is the probability of him/his offspring having cancer. Should I marry him? I want to take an informed decision as how to go ahead with our relationship. Thanks.

Answer:

Without more detailed information it is impossible to answer your questions.

In most families with herditary cancer cancer susceptibility cancers develop at earlier ages.  So when we learn about a cancer diagnosis at a young age, we generally think that there is likely to be some genetic or hereditary contribution.  The type of cancer and whether the person had any other exposures that contribute to cancer risk will also be important.  Your friend may have a somewhat higher chance to develop cancer than the average man.  Without knowing the specific cancers that his parents had as well as other information, I can't give you a more accurate answer.

If you have concerns about these issues, it would be good to talk with your friend about this.  He might be very open to learning more about how his family history can affect his cancer risk.  If he would like to find a genetic counselor, he should go to the website for the National Society of Genetic Counselors listed below.

Related Resources:

Society of Genetic Counselors Resource Center

For more information:

Go to the Cancer Genetics health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Duane D Culler, PhD, MS Duane D Culler, PhD, MS
Clinical Instructor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University