Will I Get My Parent’s Cancer?

It’s normal to wonder – and worry – whether because your mum or dad has cancer you could get it.

It’s not like catching a cold

You may worry that you will catch cancer (no it’s not a silly thought). You can’t. It is not a contagious disease. So there are definitely no problems with sharing mugs, or hugs.

Can they pass it on to me (like my eye colour)?

Most cancers are not passed down from parent to child. However there are some cancers that do have a genetic component. That is, they are caused by a faulty gene that may have been inherited (passed down from parent to child).

Only a small number of cancers (between 5-10% or less than 1 in 10) seem to be the result of having a faulty gene and these tend to be the cancers that affect older people. So, if your dad has bowel cancer and maybe your grandfather had it, there is a chance that it could be caused by a faulty gene. But it doesn’t mean that you will get it as a young person.

If you are worried about this talk to your parents, ask their doctor or check out one of the cancer information websites in the Useful links section.