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Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms

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Daphne W. Bell, Ph.D. defines Mutagen

Mutagen

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A mutagen is a chemical or physical phenomenon, such as ionizing radiation, that promotes errors in DNA replication. Exposure to a mutagen can produce DNA mutations that cause or contribute to diseases such as cancer.

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Mutagen

A mutagen is a chemical or physical phenomenon, such as ionizing radiation, that promotes errors in DNA replication. Exposure to a mutagen can produce DNA mutations that cause or contribute to diseases such as cancer.

Narration Transcription

A mutagen is a chemical or physical agent that has the ability to change our genetic code in a harmful way. The change in the genetic code is called a mutation, and throughout our lifetime we actually accumulate many mutations within our cells. And our body has the ability to recognize and repair these mutations. However, if some of these mutations escape repair, they can cause a normal cell to be transformed to become a tumor cell. Therefore, mutations are actually associated with the development of cancer.


Doctor Profile

Daphne W. Bell, Ph.D.

Daphne W. Bell, Ph.D.

Occupation
Investigator, Cancer Genetics Branch; Head, Reproductive Cancer Genetics Section

Biography
Dr. Bell's laboratory aims to understand genetic alterations that lead to clinically aggressive subtypes of endometrial cancer, to determine whether there is a heritable basis for familial endometrial cancer and to uncover genetic risk factors that promote the development of endometrial cancer at younger ages. Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecological malignancy in the United States. Most patients who present with Type 1 tumors have a good prognosis. Approximately 15% are diagnosed with Type 2 serous or clear cell tumors that are clinically aggressive. These patients have a five-year survival rate of less than 40%.

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