Issue 01 | January 2017
Strand Gene Word
Stubborn Cancer-Tough Fight
At wht age were people that you know and who are suffering from cancer diagnosed?
In the News
The breast cancer scare
Talk to one of our counselloer to discuss your specific concern!
Call us now for a complimentry appointment
Are you concerned about cancer?
Welcome to the first edition of myStrand – Your Compass to Precision Care!
myStrand gives you the opportunity to stay in touch with the latest developments in cancer research, diagnostics, and treatment available in India conveniently delivered to your inbox.
So should you be concerned about cancer? Rising air pollution is in the news every day and changed lifestyles bombard us with more carcinogens through food processing and packaging, especially in the cities. Surely you must have occasionally stopped to think how all this will affect your health and that of your family. Well, here at myStrand, we have pulled out the most recent estimates from health organizations and physicians.
Reading myStrand will keep you informed of the latest developments in the Personalized Genomics and Medicine space. Keep reading and share this email with your friends and loved ones to give you, your family and your friends a better chance to Stay Ahead Of Cancer!
The myStrand team!
Where the genetics comes in
Retinoblastoma – What you need to know
What are genes?
Genes are the recipes that tell each cell in your body what to do and allow our bodies to function. Humans have around 20,000 genes, which are collectively referred to as the human genome. Now think of the human genome as a big recipe book written with just four letters: A, T, C, and G, the language of DNA. Each recipe produces a different type of protein that our cells can use to perform their specific functions (like making our hearts beat or allowing our eyes to see).
Cancer and its causes
Most people run the risk of developing cancer by chance at some point during their lifetime due to a variety of factors that cause genetic alterations, also called mutations. Not all mutations lead to an increased risk of cancer, but if our cells accumulate 3-4 or more mutations in their genes, then the chances of developing cancer become high.
Now, if the affected genes have an important job related to cell growth, multiplication, or cell death and they can no longer do their job properly, the cell that contains the affected gene (e.g. skin cells in skin cancer, or a liver cell in liver cancer) will start to multiply uncontrollably and form a tumor.
Some of the factors known to cause gene mutations that go on to cause a type of cancer known as sporadic or somatic cancer, are all around us and can be:
We all know that lifestyle choices are in our control. For example, we can manage weight and other issues with proper diet or exercise. However, some people have variants of genes that can increase their chances of developing cancer. Such people have a higher risk of developing cancer than those who may develop the disease by chance because they carry this gene variant in every cell of their bodies. This type of cancer is known as hereditary cancer or germline cancer because the genetic mutations responsible for causing cancer are passed on from one generation to the next. For example,
if your mother or father suffered from cancer and is found to have such a cancer-causing mutation, your chance of having inherited that mutation is 50%.
To know whether you carry such a mutation or not is important as people with a hereditary predisposition are likely to develop cancer at a younger age compared to sporadic cancer cases. The reason for this is that it requires fewer environmental insults, less exposure to carcinogens and smaller amounts of adverse lifestyle habits, or no additional mutations at all for cells to turn cancerous in people who were born with a faulty cancer-causing gene mutation. Today we have the knowledge and technology to conduct diagnostic tests for such mutations and the Strand Hereditary Cancer Test covers the most common genes for which testing is recommended.
How can we prevent cancer?
Ideally, like any many other diseases, there should be ways to prevent cancer. We all know that when it comes to health, prevention is better than cure. However, medicine has not yet advanced to a stage where we can prevent cancer. However, what we can do, is have newer and better diagnostic tests and strategies for managing a person’s risk of cancer.
If you see that a lot of relatives in your immediate and extended families are suffering from cancer, the best way to know whether you are at an increased risk is to speak to a genetic counselor to establish whether there is a family history of a particular cancer syndrome like hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) or colorectal, ovarian, and endometrial cancer (including Lynch syndrome) for example. If a genetic counsellor suspects such a syndrome they can recommend the appropriate genetic test to confirm whether any hereditary mutations are present in your genes. If an increased risk is confirmed, your doctor can advise you of the available and recommended screening and prevention options that apply to the identified cancer syndrome.
Visit our website to learn more about hereditary cancer and genetic testing for inherited mutations: www.strandls.com/stayaheadofcancer
About Genetic Counselling!
Since you’ve attended one of our corporate screening events you will already have heard a bit about Genetic Counselling. To know more about what happens at a Genetic Counselling session, watch this video!