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How Inherited Genetic Mutations Cause Lung Cancer

Most people associate lung cancer with smoking. While tobacco is the leading cause of lung cancer, it’s not the only one. More and more research is coming out to suggest that some cases can be attributed to inherited genetic mutations. As we learn more about this, doctors at Regional Cancer Care Associates and around the country can help better care for patients with lung cancer.

The Relationship between Genes and Cancer

Genes play a major role in cancer development. They tell cells when to grow and divide. They also tell them when to stop. When genes aren’t doing their job right, some cells may grow and divide uncontrollably. And that’s how cancer starts.

Most genes become compromised due to outside factors, like tobacco smoke and carcinogenic chemicals. But some genes, researchers believe, are predisposed to changes. That is, when some people are born, their genes are simply more susceptible to lung cancer.

Inherited Genetic Mutations

When lung cancer runs in the family, it could be because of inherited genetic mutations. According to the American Cancer Society, here’s how inherited genetic mutations can affect lung cancer, regardless of whether a person smokes:

  • They can make a person more likely to develop lung cancer.
  • They can reduce a person’s ability to eliminate cancer-causing chemicals from the body.
  • They cause faulty DNA repair mechanisms.

But just because you have the mutations, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get lung cancer. It does mean, however, that you are at an increased risk. These inherited mutations have been linked to several different types of lung cancer, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

Targeted Treatment Options

Today, genetic testing allows doctors to learn more about someone’s cancer. There are even new treatment options available that target specific gene changes. For example, drugs like dabrafenib (Tafinlar) and trametinib (Mekinist) can target lung cancer cells that have changes in the BRAF gene. This offers new hope to patients with lung cancer.

Get Access to the Latest Lung Cancer Treatments

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with lung cancer, come to Regional Cancer Care Associates. We develop a personalized treatment plan for every case of lung cancer.

we are here for you

For more information or to schedule an appointment,
call 844-346-7222. You can also schedule an appointment by calling the RCCA location nearest you.


Regional Cancer Care Associates is one of fewer than 200 medical practices in the country selected to participate in the Oncology Care Model (OCM); a recent Medicare initiative aimed at improving care coordination and access to and quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries undergoing chemotherapy treatment.