Which Genes Cause Cancer?

Cancer written on Board

Cancer is a complex disease that can be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. While certain genes have been identified as playing a role in cancer development, it’s essential to understand that cancer is not caused by a single gene but rather by mutations in multiple genes that disrupt normal cell growth and division processes.

Some genes, known as oncogenes, promote cell growth and division when mutated, leading to uncontrolled cell proliferation and potentially cancerous growth. Examples of oncogenes include:

  • KRAS: Mutations in the KRAS gene are commonly found in various cancers, including colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
  • EGFR: Mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene are associated with certain types of lung cancer and other cancers.
  • HER2: Amplification or overexpression of the HER2 gene is observed in some breast cancers and other types of cancer.
  • BRAF: Mutations in the BRAF gene are found in melanoma, colorectal cancer, and other cancers.

On the other hand, tumor suppressor genes normally regulate cell growth and division, and mutations that inactivate these genes can lead to uncontrolled cell growth and cancer development. Examples of tumor suppressor genes include:

  1. TP53 (p53): Mutations in the TP53 gene are commonly found in many types of cancer and can disrupt the cell’s ability to repair DNA damage and control cell division.
  2. BRCA1 and BRCA2: Mutations in these genes significantly increase the risk of breast, ovarian, and other cancers.
  3. PTEN: Mutations in the PTEN gene are associated with various cancers, including breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer.

It’s important to note that not everyone with mutations in these genes will develop cancer. Cancer development typically involves a combination of genetic predisposition, environmental exposures (such as tobacco smoke, radiation, and certain chemicals), and lifestyle factors (such as diet, physical activity, and alcohol consumption). Additionally, cancer is a heterogeneous disease, meaning that different types of cancer may have different genetic causes and risk factors.

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