Cancer True Risk Factors

Cancer: the real risk factors: genetics and risk factors

Following the interview with Agnès Buzyn, president of the National Cancer Institute (INCa),

Family and gene risk factors ...

Violette: My grandfather died of cancer at age 70, along with my aunt, my mother's sister. Am I at risk of developing one myself?

Agnès Buzyn: Cancer is a common disease whose incidence increases with age. It is true that over 70-80 years, the risks increase. The fact that someone in your family has developed cancer in old age is not enough in itself to say that you have specific risk factors.

It is above all the cancers before the age of 50 years in first degree parents (father, mother, siblings) who must alert.

On a case-by-case basis, the general practitioner will analyze the family risk factors of the patients, and possibly consider the opinion of a specialist, and the use of an oncogenetic consultation.

Onmeda: There are however cancers linked to genes ...

AB: Yes. Some people have genetic predispositions. These people are more likely to develop cancer at an early age. In particular, for breast cancer, very young women may be affected by the disease. This is why the INCa has set up a specific program to refer at-risk women to oncogenetic consultations, that is to say cancer genetics. The goal is to identify families at risk, and to be able to offer them special follow-up that is completely different from the general population.

Françoise: Is it true that we are all born with the cancer gene inside us?

AB : Our cells are constantly multiplying, their renewal is only in the body, there are billions of dividing cells. During this process, there may be genetic abnormalities that promote the development of cancer. We do not really have a "cancer gene", but all of us can actually develop one.

Genetic predisposition to cancer and screening

Violette: How to know if we are concerned by a risk of cancer linked to a genetic predisposition?

Agnès Buzyn : When several people from the same family have the same cancer, it can be a hereditary cancer due to an abnormality in a gene that is passed from one generation to another. This anomaly is called genetic mutation.

Only a small proportion of breast cancers, 5-10%, are hereditary, that is, attributable to a genetic mutation.

Being a carrier of a genetic mutation does not systematically result in the appearance of a cancer, but increases the risk of developing one. This is called a genetic predisposition.

Violette: In practice, what is the solution?

AB: Having multiple family members with the same cancer should alert both patients and general practitioners who must then refer these women to an oncogenetic clinic. INCa is conducting an information campaign so that women, possibly concerned, can benefit from these oncogenetic consultations.

Unfortunately, we have the impression that doctors, like families, are not sufficiently informed on this subject. INCa does a lot of pedagogical work for the general public and health professionals. There is an average oncogenetic consultation in each region of France, usually where a CHU or a Cancer Center is located.

Writing Onmeda: These oncogenetic screening actions exist only for breast cancer?

AB: It also exists for cancers other than breast cancer: there are genetic risk factors in colorectal cancer, for example.

To watch: this interview with Agnès Buzy on breast cancer screening

Interview with Agnès Buzyn, President of the National Cancer Institute, on organized breast cancer screening and the importance of getting tested.

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