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The major scientific focus of the section of cancer genetics has been the study of inherited susceptibility to cancer. Most common types of human cancer appear to include a proportion of cases that are attributable to inherited susceptibility to the disease.

Individuals carrying susceptibility genes are frequently at very high risk of developing cancer that is often diagnosed at an early age. Study of this group of people is important for two major reasons. Firstly, identification of individuals who are at high risk before they develop the disease may allow them to take avoiding action, and secondly, elucidation of the genetic mechanisms underlying the susceptibility often generates important insights into the development of the common forms of non-familial cancer.

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