• Denis Burkitt
  • Michael Hutt


It is generally conceded that the cancer pattern in a population is determined to a large extent by its physical, biological, and human environment and that most racial differences are the result of these external factors. Some rare tumors, such as the squamous cell carcinoma that develops in the skin of individuals with xeroderma pigmentosa or the adenocarcinoma of the large bowel in patients with familial polyposis, clearly have a strong genetic component. Genetic factors may also play a role in determining which individuals in a population develop a tumor when exposed to a specific environmental hazard. Solar keratosis and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin which occurs as a result of ultraviolet irradiation is closely related to the degree of skin pigmentation. The albino African represents the highest risk, while the normal dark skinned African is completely immune from solar cancer except for his conjunctiva which is not protected by pigment (Templeton, 1967). Europeans show a spectrum of susceptibility according to their pigmentation. In an indirect way genetic factors may influence the liability of an African to develop Burkitt’s lymphoma. Individuals of hemoglobin genotype AS which confers some protection against malaria have a significantly lower incidence of the tumor than those with the normal genotype AA (Morrow et al., 1971). Evidence is also accumulating that genetically determined enzymes may play a role in determining the susceptibility of individuals to some specific carcinogens (Brit. Med. J., 1974).


Bladder Cancer Esophageal Cancer Large Bowel Penile Cancer Chronic Atrophic Gastritis 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denis Burkitt
    • 1
  • Michael Hutt
    • 1
  1. 1.Geographical Pathology Unit, Department of Morbid AnatomySt. Thomas’ Hospital Medical SchoolLondon, S.E.I.England

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