Cancer Information

polymorphism

(PAH-lee-MOR-fih-zum)

A common change in the genetic code in DNA. Polymorphisms can have a harmful effect, a good effect, or no effect. Some polymorphisms have been shown to increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

A common mutation. “Common” is typically defined as an allele frequency of at least 1%. All genes occur in pairs, except when x and y chromosomes are paired in males; thus a polymorphism with an allele frequency of 1% would be found in about 2% of the population, with most carriers having one copy of the polymorphism and one copy of the normal allele.