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Inherited Cancer

An interesting study regarding inherited cancer was done at the epidemiology department of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden where more than 2 million families and their more than 5 million offspring were surveyed for the presence of cancer.

This study was done to get an idea regarding the potential genetic transmission of different cancer types (Ref. 15). Here are the findings: no inherited risk was found for squamous cell skin cancer and myeloma.

An increased risk of two-fold or more (sibling to offspring ratio) was found for the following cancers: stomach, kidney and bladder cancer, hormone gland cancers, colon, testicular, prostate cancer and leukemia.

 Inherited Cancer

Inherited Cancer

Breast cancer had a very high genetic inheritance with a frequency of 10-fold or more when one parent and one sibling were affected. A surprise finding of the study was that there are cancer connections between rectum/skin, breast/hormone glands and lung/hormone glands. These studies, which are based on a large data base will help cancer researchers throughout the world to pinpoint the cancer genes and hopefully help to develop possibly a cancer vaccine (thanks to for this link) for people with susceptibility. The idea here is that people with a higher susceptibility for cancer need more help in terms of the immune system fighting it before it takes off and metastasizes.

Inherited Cancer

Inherited Cancer (Vaccination)

Cancer vaccines

An example regarding a cervical cancer vaccine is the human papilloma virus vaccine, Gardasil, which is now well established. Another example are hepatitis A and B vaccines that have been around for some time and have reduced the risk of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver and the resulting risk of liver cancer in this patient group.

The idea of cancer vaccines has become a reality and there likely will be more cancer vaccines in the future. This will be part of the regular treatment possibilities for the cancer specialists.

Another useful area is the use of specific vaccines (for instance the measles vaccine) for curing multiple myeloma.


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Last modified: October 15, 2014

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.