A surprisingly high number of childhood cancers are related to inherited genetic mutations. Doctors at St. Jude’s say they will use this newly discovered information to better direct care of cancer patients and help parents with family planning.
In a landmark study, published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, over 1200 children and adolescent patients had their cancers sequenced with state-of-the art technologies. The study found that 8.5% of pediatric patients had inherited their cancer-predisposing genes from their parents.
8.5% of pediatric patients inherited their cancer-causing genes
Doctors at St. Jude’s say that technical and knowledge limitations mean that this 8.5% number is likely to be an underestimation of the actual incidences of inherited mutations causing cancer or making it easier for cancer to occur in children.
They also discovered that genes like BRCA1 and BRCA2 – made famous by Angelina Jolie, and previously believed by scientists to be important only in adult cancers, may also have a role in paediatric cancers. If additional studies confirm this finding, it may lead to drastic changes in how cancer screening is done in young relatives of adult patients with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation.
Inherited cancer-causing genes do not always correlate with family history of cancer
Current clinical practice uses family history to identify patients who may have inherited cancer-causing genes. It was found that the inherited genetic mutations did not always correlate with medical and family history. This may be due to several factors, including incomplete information on family history, and that many first- and second-degree relatives are often young, and have not yet developed cancer. The Doctors state that this information means that family history should NOT be the only indication used to determine if genetic counselling and testing should be offered to paediatric patients.
If you are interested in taking control of your health, you may want to think about using genetic sequencing to help determine the risk of inherited disease for you and your loved ones. If you’d like to learn more about genes and inherited diseases, we have a number of informative articles, and youmay always contact us for a free consultation. GeneYouIn is at the forefront of providing personalized medicine and if you’d like to learn more, please follow our blog and on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news.