Cancer is a collection of diseases characterized by abnormal and uncontrolled cellular growth caused primarily by genetic mutations1 , 2. These mutations, called ‘drivers’ after their ability to drive tumorigenesis, confer on cells in a somatic tissue certain selective advantages with respect to neighbouring cells1.

(DRI-ver myoo-TAY-shun) A term used to describe changes in the DNA sequence of genes that cause cells to become cancer cells and grow and spread in the body. Checking tumor tissue for driver mutations may help plan treatment to stop cancer cells from growing, including drugs that target a specific mutation.

The genetic changes that contribute to cancer tend to affect three main types of genesproto-oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, and DNA repair genes. These changes are sometimes called drivers of cancer.

At present, about 568 genes from 28,000 tumors and 66 types of cancers have been identified as driver genes, which, on being mutated, have the ability to cause cancer.

Identifying which mutations contribute to cancer development is a key step in understanding tumor biology and developing targeted therapies. Mutations that provide a selective growth advantage, and thus promote cancer development, are termed driver mutations, and those that do not are termed passenger mutations (4).

‘Driver’ mutations confer growth advantage on the cells carrying them and have been positively selected during the evolution of the cancer. They reside, by definition, in the subset of genes known as ‘cancer genes’.

Although in the biology of cancer, driver mutations have been given more importance, the new evidence shows that passenger mutations are more important because they impact areas such as epigenetics, in mitochondrial DNA, immunogenicity or in the response to chemotherapy.

We identify 299 driver genes with implications regarding their anatomical sites and cancer/cell types. Sequence- and structure-based analyses identified >3,400 putative missense driver mutations supported by multiple lines of evidence.

In contrast to DNA damage, a mutation is a change in the base sequence of the DNA. A mutation cannot be recognized by enzymes once the base change is present in both DNA strands, and thus a mutation cannot be repaired.

No, we don’t all have cancer cells in our bodies. Our bodies are constantly producing new cells, some of which have the potential to become cancerous. At any given moment, we may be producing cells that have damaged DNA, but that doesn’t mean they’re destined to become cancer.

Types of cancer

  • Carcinomas. A carcinoma begins in the skin or the tissue that covers the surface of internal organs and glands. …
  • Sarcomas. A sarcoma begins in the tissues that support and connect the body. …
  • Leukemias. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. …
  • Lymphomas. Lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymphatic system.

The foods we eat can affect our risk of developing certain types of cancer. High-energy and high-fat diets can lead to obesity and are generally thought to increase the risk of some cancers. Enjoying a wide variety of nutritious foods as described in the Australian Dietary Guidelines may help to prevent cancer.

Genetic testing helps estimate your chance of developing cancer in your lifetime. It does this by searching for specific changes in your genes, chromosomes, or proteins. These changes are called mutations. Genetic tests are available for some types of cancer.

Human tumorigenesis can be considered to be the accumulation of genetic mutations within cells that affect both the tumor suppressor genes as well as the oncogenes.

An alteration in DNA that occurs after conception. Somatic mutations can occur in any of the cells of the body except the germ cells (sperm and egg) and therefore are not passed on to children.

p53 mutations are certainly driver mutations in Li- Fraumeni syndrome patients, who suffer from hereditary cancer susceptibility because of germline p53 mutations (19), and in cer- tain sporadic cancer types such as high-grade serous ovarian cancer where p53 mutations are found already in the earliest pre- malignant …

Passenger mutations can be defined as mutations that do not directly drive cancer initiation and progression, as opposed to driver mutations, such as mutations in oncogenes, TSGs or repair genes. In this sense, the mutations considered in our model should be classified as passenger mutations.

(ON-koh-jeen) A gene that is a mutated (changed) form of a gene involved in normal cell growth. Oncogenes may cause the growth of cancer cells. Mutations in genes that become oncogenes can be inherited or caused by being exposed to substances in the environment that cause cancer.

Driver mutations are mostly identified by their frequencies. Thus, high-frequency drivers are identified; but rare drivers may not be. Driver mutations can locate at active (or functional) sites, or they can be allosteric.

The discovery of oncogenic drivers led to the design of therapies targeting tumors harboring specific gene alterations that cause aberrant signaling and proliferation [13]. The majority of these oncogenic drivers are tyrosine kinases, proteins that are key regulators of cellular proliferation, growth, and survival.

BRCA1-mutated breast cancer is primarily driven by DNA copy-number alterations (CNAs) containing large numbers of candidate driver genes.

Driver mutations are largely discovered through their frequencies. Thus, rare mutations often escape detection. Unlike high-frequency drivers, low-frequency drivers can be tissue specific; rare drivers have extremely low frequencies.

Identifies genes that are significantly mutated in cancer genomes, using a model with mutational covariates.

Introduction to Proto-oncogenes Often, proto-oncogenes encode proteins that function to stimulate cell division, inhibit cell differentiation, and halt cell death. All of these processes are important for normal human development and for the maintenance of tissues and organs.

A mutation that directly or indirectly confers a selective growth advantage to the cell in which it occurs. A gene that contains driver gene mutations (Mut-Driver gene) or is expressed aberrantly in a fashion that confers a selective growth advantage (Epi-Driver gene).

Proto-oncogenes are normal genes that help cells grow. An oncogene is any gene that causes cancer. One of the main characteristics of cancer is uncontrolled cell growth.

Tumor suppressor genes are normal genes that slow down cell division, repair DNA mistakes, or tell cells when to die (a process known as apoptosis or programmed cell death). When tumor suppressor genes don’t work properly, cells can grow out of control, which can lead to cancer.


  • Germline mutations occur in gametes. Somatic mutations occur in other body cells.
  • Chromosomal alterations are mutations that change chromosome structure.
  • Point mutations change a single nucleotide.
  • Frameshift mutations are additions or deletions of nucleotides that cause a shift in the reading frame.

One food shown to repair DNA is carrots. They are rich in carotenoids, which are powerhouses of antioxidant activity. A study that had participants eating 2.5 cups of carrots per day for three weeks found, at the end, the subjects’ blood showed an increase in DNA repair activity.

There are three types of DNA Mutations: base substitutions, deletions and insertions.

  • Base Substitutions. Single base substitutions are called point mutations, recall the point mutation Glu —–> Val which causes sickle-cell disease.
  • Deletions. …
  • Insertions.