Familial cancer cases on the rise in India: Experts

February 3, 2024
As we approach World Cancer Day, which is observed every year on February 4, experts have expressed their concern over the rising cases of 'familial cancer' in India.

New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) As we approach World Cancer Day, which is observed every year on February 4, experts have expressed their concern over the rising cases of ‘familial cancer’ in India. Familial cancer is characterised by gene mutations in two or more first-degree relatives diagnosed with the same type of cancer. According to experts, this condition is influenced by hereditary predisposition, variable gene penetrance, and environmental factors.

“Familial cancers arise when multiple family members develop the same cancer more often than chance dictates. While environmental factors can play a role, many cases involve inherited gene mutations, increasing cancer risk,” Mandeep Singh Malhotra, Director of Surgical Oncology at CK Birla Hospital, Delhi, told IANS on Saturday.

“These ‘genomic cancers’ comprise 5-10 per cent of global cancer cases and understanding them is crucial for prevention. Other notable familial cancer types include medullary thyroid cancer, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), and Lynch syndrome, linked to colorectal cancers,” he added.

A data analysis conducted by Metropolis Healthcare on Hereditary Cancer Syndromes revealed a 49.02 per cent overall positivity rate.

It studied the results of 102 patients who underwent for testing.

Out of the total detected cases, the maximum cases were of breast cancer (34 per cent), followed by gastrointestinal cancer (30 per cent), ovarian (8 per cent) and prostate cancer.

“Hereditary predisposition, passed through successive generations of a family, has been implicated in 10–15 per cent of cancer cases. Breast, colon, bladder, and ovarian cancers are commonly associated with a hereditary predisposition,” said Kirti Chadha, Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Oncopathologist, Metropolis Healthcare Limited.

Chanda also mentioned that they observed a high detection rate of pathogenic mutations, particularly in individuals with a personal history of at least two different primary solid tumour cancers.

“BRCA-Related Cancer diagnosed at age 40 or younger, history of colorectal polyposis and other such cited associations with a higher proportion in breast, gastrointestinal, ovarian, and prostate cancers,” she noted.

Moreover, health experts recommend that if a person has close family members with cancer they should consider seeking genetic counseling.

The doctors will create a pedigree chart to assess the actual risk, going beyond mere apprehension. Depending on the identified risks, various genomic tests may be recommended, targeting specific cancer types or multiple genes.

“A person with an inherited cancer susceptibility gene should take extra steps to ensure he/she finds out ways to lower your risk and find cancer early,” Sunny Jain, Cancer Care/Oncology, Sr Consultant & HOD – Oncology, Marengo Asia Hospitals, Faridabad, told IANS.

“This may include eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking and alcohol, having regular checkups, enrolling in various screening programmes, and being more physically active short should take care of all the modifiable risk factors for cancer,” he added.

For early detection and intervention once a person has the results, prevention strategies can be tailored, according to experts.



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