NCI Dictionary of Genetics Terms
Welcome to the NCI Dictionary of Genetics Terms, which contains technical definitions for more than 150 terms related to genetics. These definitions were developed by the PDQ® Cancer Genetics Editorial Board to support the evidence-based, peer-reviewed PDQ cancer genetics information summaries.
- sporadic cancer
- listen(spuh-RA-dik KAN-ser)
- This term has two meanings. It is sometimes used to differentiate cancers occurring in people who do not have a germline mutation that confers increased susceptibility to cancer from cancers occurring in people who are known to carry a mutation. Cancer developing in people who do not carry a high-risk mutation is referred to as sporadic cancer. The distinction is not absolute, because genetic background may influence the likelihood of cancer even in the absence of a specific predisposing mutation. Alternatively, sporadic is also sometimes used to describe cancer occurring in individuals without a family history of cancer.