The key difference between sporadic familial and hereditary cancers lies in the origins of gene mutations. In sporadic cancers, these mutations are acquired. In familial cancers, mutations can affect two or more family members. Meanwhile, in hereditary cancers, gene mutations pass from one generation to the next.
Cancer arises from the uncontrolled growth of cells in the human body. Cancer is mainly caused by harmful changes or mutations in genes that control the growth and division of cells. This prevents the cells from being able to do their function effectively.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Sporadic Cancers
3. What are Familial Cancers
4. What are Hereditary Cancers
5. Similarities – Sporadic Familial and Hereditary Cancers
6. Sporadic vs. Familial vs. Hereditary Cancers in Tabular Form
7. FAQ – Sporadic Familial and Hereditary Cancers
8. Summary – Sporadic vs. Familial vs. Hereditary Cancers
What are Sporadic Cancers?
Most cancers develop sporadically. Gene mutations in sporadic cancer happen due to errors in copying DNA when new cells are made. Therefore, they are not inherited. In these families, the mutations causing the cancer occur only in the tumor itself; hence, they are all acquired after birth. The risk factors for sporadic cancers are environmental (radiation exposure), lifestyle, or medical factors.
Acquired gene mutations in sporadic cancers cannot be passed from one generation to the next. Therefore, this type of cancer is considered a chance event. Examples of sporadic cancers are melanoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, kidney cancer, and bladder cancer. Furthermore, sporadic cancers can be treated through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
What are Familial Cancers?
Family cancer is typically identified by specific gene mutations that significantly raise the risk of cancer and are passed down within a family. These cancers might be more common in certain families because family members share certain behaviors or exposures that increase familial cancer risk, such as smoking, or because of other factors that can run in some families, like obesity.
Some of the well-known examples of familial cancers are hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome, Lynch syndrome, and Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Furthermore, familial cancers can be treated through drug therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
What are Hereditary Cancers?
Only about 5 % to 10 % of all cancers are known to be strongly linked to gene defects or mutations inherited from a parent. These are known as hereditary cancers. These cancers are caused by a mutation in a gene that was present in the egg or sperm cell at the time of fertilization. Hereditary cancers make up a fraction of common cancers such as breast, colon, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and ovarian cancer.
The risk factors for hereditary cancers include having relatives with hereditary cancers in the family and children of parents with inherited cancer. Furthermore, hereditary cancers can be treated through new drugs and surgical procedures.
What are the Similarities Between Sporadic Familial and Hereditary Cancers?
- Sporadic, familial, and hereditary cancers are three types of cancers in people.
- Gene mutations cause them.
- They can be diagnosed through imaging tests.
- These can be treated through drugs and surgeries.
What is the Difference Between Sporadic Familial and Hereditary Cancers?
In sporadic cancers, gene mutations that cause the cancer are acquired, while in familial cancers, gene mutations that cause the cancer can occur in two or more family members, and in hereditary cancers, gene mutations that cause the cancer pass from one generation to another. Thus, this is the key difference between sporadic familial and hereditary cancers. Furthermore, gene mutations in sporadic cancers are acquired, and gene mutations in the familial cancers are inherited and restricted to certain families, while gene mutations in the hereditary cancers are inherited.
The infographic below presents the differences between sporadic familial and hereditary cancers in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
FAQ: Sporadic Familial and Hereditary Cancers
What is the difference between hereditary and non-hereditary cancer?
Hereditary cancers are cancers caused due to genetic changes we are born with and that are inherited from our parents. Non-hereditary cancers are cancers that are caused by gene mutations that happen when genes wear out as we get older or when we are exposed to something around us that causes cancer. Therefore, they are not due to the genetic changes passed from parents to offspring.
How do you know if cancer is hereditary?
We can get to know if cancer is hereditary when we observe two or more relatives with the same type of cancer, on the same side of the family, several generations affected,
What cancers are not hereditary?
Lung cancer and cervical cancer are two examples of non-hereditary cancers.
Summary – Sporadic vs. Familial vs. Hereditary Cancers
Cancer is a broad category of diseases where normal cells transform into cancerous cells, multiplying and spreading to other parts of the body. Sporadic familial and hereditary cancers are three types of cancers in people. Gene mutations in sporadic cancer happen because of errors in copying DNA when new cells are made. Gene mutations in familial cancers significantly increase the risk of cancer within a family, while gene mutations in hereditary cancers are passed from one generation to the next. So, this summarizes the difference between sporadic familial and hereditary cancers.
1. Tempfer, Clemens B., and Marc-Andr & Reymond. “Sporadic Cancers.” SpringerLink, Springer New York, 1 Jan. 1970.
2. “Familial Cancer – An Overview.” ScienceDirect Topics.
3. “Is Cancer Hereditary: Family History vs Inherited Cancers.” City of Hope.
1. “Pancreas neoplasia carcinoma sequence pl” By original work (Palladin_expression_neoplasia.png) by Filip_em, based on: Pogue-Geile KL, Chen R, Bronner MP, Crnogorac-Jurcevic T, Moyes KW, et al. (2006) Palladin Mutation Causes Familial Pancreatic Cancer and Suggests a New Cancer Mechanism. PLoS Med 3(12): e516. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030516. PMID 17194196original derivative work (Pancreas neoplasia carcinoma sequence.png) by Nephronderivative work: M1llx (zgłoś błąd) – (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma associated RCC – alt — very high mag” By Nephron – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia