Changes in a person's genes or DNA—called mutations—can alter the way cells function, causing cells to grow and divide, which can lead to cancer. An inherited cancer is caused by an abnormal gene that is passed along from generation to generation. According to the American Cancer Society, only five to 10 percent of all cancers are inherited.
Cancer-causing genetic changes can also be acquired naturally during a person’s lifetime or from exposure to substances that damage or change the structure of a person's DNA. Though specific cancers may appear to "run in families," more than likely this is due to environmental adverse factors such as nicotine or asbestos which are leading cause of lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Genetic testing can identify specific mutation patterns in patients with a malignancy. It can confirm whether a type of cancer is the result of an inherited syndrome, and whether healthy family members possess the same DNA mutation and may be at risk for developing specific cancers. At the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Lung Center, cancer genetics specialists work in association with advanced radiologic techniques to detect and treat cancer at its earliest stage.
Once a cancer is identified our multidisciplinary team of pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, and oncologists evaluate specific DNA tumor sequences in order to identify precision molecular and immunologic agents to target cancer cells. This personalized care approach uses state-of-the-art precision medical testing and therapy to match the specific cancer with it’s unique genetic makeup with the most effective tailored therapy for the individual. Learn more about the Pulmonary Genetics Center.
The Lung Center is located at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at the 15 Francis Street entrance. Thoracic surgery, pulmonary and critical care medicine and thoracic imaging are adjacent to one another, making accessibility and appointment scheduling seamless.