NCI Dictionary of Genetics Terms

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The NCI Dictionary of Genetics Terms contains technical definitions for more than 200 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.

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somatic variant
(soh-MA-tik VAYR-ee-unt)
An alteration in DNA that occurs after conception and is not present within the germline. Somatic variants 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. Somatic variants can (but do not always) cause cancer or other diseases.