Cancer is a genetic disease—that is, it is caused by changes to genes that control the way our cells function, especially how they grow and divide.
Genetic changes that cause cancer can happen because:
- of errors that occur as cells divide.
- of damage to DNA caused by harmful substances in the environment, such as the chemicals in tobacco smoke and ultraviolet rays from the sun. (Our Cancer Causes and Prevention section has more information.)
- they were inherited from our parents.
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