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Genetics and cancer: What you need to know

Both the genes you inherit from your parents and your lifestyle can play a role in whether you develop cancer.

The good news is that lifestyle choices that we can control play a more significant role in our cancer destiny even in the event of inherited genes.

“Genetic testing can be helpful for knowing if someone is at high risk for certain types of cancer to take action for early detection, prevention and treatment,” said Flavia Kostov, M.D., medical oncologist with Riverside Cancer Care Center. “Testing is also useful after diagnosis to better understand the exact type of cancer and how to treat it.”

Most cancers are not hereditary

Genes are pieces of DNA that hold the blueprint for our mental and physical makeup. We inherit genes from our parents that are responsible for traits like eye color and what type of hair we will have.

Sometimes, an increase in cancer risk is passed down through changes to genes known as mutation. It’s an alteration to a gene that can change...

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