35. Heredity and Cancer
Cancer is not considered an inherited illness because most cases of cancer, perhaps 80 to 90 percent, occur in people with no family history of the disease. However, a person's chances of developing cancer can be influenced by the inheritance of certain kinds of genetic alterations. These alterations tend to increase an individual's susceptibility to developing cancer in the future. For example, about 5 percent of breast cancers are thought to be due to inheritance of particular form(s) of a "breast cancer susceptibility gene."