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Cancer Genetics:
It's All About You!

Genetics is the field of biology that examines how traits are passed from one generation to the next. Simply put, genetics affects everything about all living things on earth.

Organisms that reproduce sexually go through a complicated dance that includes mixing and matching strands of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in a process called recombination and then reducing the amount of DNA in special sex chromosomes to arrive at completely new genetic combinations for their offspring. These amazing processes are a part of what makes you unique.


Genetics is the science of genes, heredity, and the variation of organisms.

A Genome is an organism's complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. In humans, a copy of the entire genome-more than 3 billion DNA base pairs-is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.

Genomics describes the study of all genes in an individual, as well as the interactions of those genes with each other.


The Importance of Genetics for Cancer Research Advocates:

Understanding the underlying concepts of human genetics and the interactive role of genes, behavior, and the environment is important for advocates and patients who want to understand what is happening in medical research that will improve prevention, diagnosis and treatments for future patients.

We will take you step by step through the basics of cancer genetics so you will have a preliminary understanding of this important field and how it applies to cancer. Remember to go to Cancer 101 before reading this section, as this is a continuation with more detail. Please feel free to skip any topic you are not interested in.

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We have used a lot of pictures to help you understand this technical topic. You can find all of these images on the National Cancer Institute site at:

As an advocate or patient you do not need to know all the details of cancer genetics but it will help you to better understand what is happening in cancer research if you have a basic understanding. A wonderful website with videos and interactive sections is available at:



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