The Genetics of Cancer
This section has been reviewed and approved by the PLWC Editorial Board , 08/06
The ancient Greeks believed that cancer was caused by too much body fluid they called "black bile." Doctors in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries suggested that parasites caused cancer. Today, doctors understand more about the link between cancer and genetics. Viruses, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and chemicals can all damage genes in the human body. If particular genes are affected, a person can develop cancer.
Genes and chromosomes
Genes are the basic functional and physical unit of heredity that is passed on from parent to child. They are made of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and are located on structures called chromosomes in every cell of a person's body. Genes direct much of what happens in the body, such as the determination of eye color, blood type, and in some cases, the development of cancer.
The human body contains nearly 30,000 genes, which are located on 46 chromosomes (arranged in 23 pairs) in every cell of a person's body. Genes