Most cases of pancreatic cancer appear out of the blue, with no previous family history of the condition. However, in a few families, the tendancy for pancreatic cancer appears to be genetically determined. It is estimated that 5-10% of pancreatic cancer cases may have a hereditary element and in these families we often see multiple cases of this cancer, usually in multiple generations. We term this Familial Pancreatic Cancer (FPC).
Hereditary conditions are caused by changes in genes, the genetic 'blueprints' that make the proteins of our body. We know of several genes which can cause various types of cancer but we only know of one gene that can cause FPC, this is the BRCA2 gene which is usually associated with hereditary breast cancer. In the majority of FPC families the causative gene is unknown and one of the aims of EUROPAC is to identify mutations that cause the predisposition in these families.
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