The development of cancer is mostly up to luck. However, sometimes it is more than that: several dozen genes have been discovered, in which certain pathogenic variants cause an increased risk of cancer. Especially at risk are individuals with a congenital defect in the TP53 gene, which results in called Li-Fraumeni syndrome. These individuals are at 100% risk (!) of getting cancer if they live to the age of 70, and 50% risk when they reach 40.
What’s more, half of cancer patients, if they survive the first tumour, are likely to develop a second tumour.
How many tumours can a single person develop? Unfortunately, the record holder is a Japanese woman who lived to the age of 45, during which she went through NINE cancers. At the age of 7, she had neuroblastoma for the first time, followed by striatocellular sarcoma, right breast sarcoma, left lung cancer, left breast cancer, thyroid cancer, stomach cancer, osteosarcoma of the jaw (and sternum) … if that wasn’t enough – it’s likely that she also developed an acute myeloid leukaemia, which resulted in her death.
The whole story, along with the hair-raising description of the number of medical interventions during the patient’s life, can be read here:
We also recommend a study on the risk of developing cancer by individuals with Li-Fraumeni syndrome: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5115949