(2007). Genetics and cancer.
In: Missailidis, Sotiris ed.
The Cancer Clock.
Chicester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 57–75.
Cancer is often considered a genetic disease. The genetic origin of the disease can have a double meaning. First of all, we have seen in the two previous chapters, and we will see in the following two, that external factors such as diet, carcinogens, the environment, infection or inflammation can lead to cancer initiation and progression. However, most of these factors ultimately cause cancer through their effect on DNA, the genetic material inside the cell. One way or another, directly or indirectly, these factors can cause DNA damage that leads to mutations, which are the first stage in the initiation of cancer. However, cancer is also a genetic disease in that there can be an inherited predisposition for the disease. Within families with cancer victims there is an increased risk of cancer that appears to be inherited from generation to generation. In this chapter we will have the opportunity to examine this phenomenon in some detail and link it with the external factors that we have encountered and will encounter later. Similarly, we will consider the relationship of genetics and genomics, a scientific discipline that has been of particular interest in the last few years. Even more specifically, we will consider the interaction of genetics and genomics with the environment through their relationship with diet and nutrition, as well as how genomics have given rise to a speciality area of oncogenomics and the design of modern therapeutic agents that have taken advantages of genetic differences in cancer cells and have targeted those in a specific manner, to result in drugs with improved specificity and reduced side effects than traditionally used chemotherapy that was based on features such as the rapid division of the cancer cell as a means of effecting its selective cell kill action.
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