Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics
Cancer is a genetic disease caused mainly due to the Alterations in different kinds of Genes. A change in a gene is called a ‘fault’ or ‘mutation’ Cancer Genetics is the branch of Genetics dealing with gene alterations in Cancer patients. Mutations in Oncogenes and Tumor suppressor genes contribute to the development of cancer. The most commonly mutated gene in people who have cancer is p53. Germ line mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes increase a women’s risk of developing Hereditary Breast Cancer or Ovarian Cancers.Mutations in tumor suppressor gene of PTEN protein causes Cowden Syndrome, an inherited disorder that increases the risk of Breast, Thyroid, Endometrial and other types of cancer.The study of epigenetic modifications to the genome of cancer cells that do not include a change in the nucleotide sequence is known as Cancer Epigenetics. Epigenetic alterations are as important as genetic mutations in a cell's transformation to cancer and their manipulation embraces great potential for cancer prevention, detection, and therapy. A wide range of compounds are considered as epigenetic carcinogens such as arsenite, diethylstilbestrol, hexachlorobenzene and nickel compounds. They result in an increased incidence of tumors, but they do not show mutagen activity.