KRAS Mutations vs the KRAS-Variant


The KRAS-variant vs. KRAS mutations

Both the KRAS-variant and KRAS mutations change the KRAS gene, however they are fundamentally very different.


What is KRAS?

KRAS is a gene everyone has that produces a protein that instructs cells to grow and divide or mature and take on different functions.


When a KRAS gene is mutated or changed it can cause normal cells to become cancerous. Both the KRAS-variant and KRAS mutations change the KRAS gene, however they are fundamentally very different.

The KRAS-variant is inherited.

The KRAS-variant is something a person is born with and it is in every one of the person's single cell. You either have this variant, or you do not, and you can be tested for it in a DNA sample from your saliva or a cheek swab.

KRAS mutations are not inherited.

KRAS mutations are caused by damage to DNA that randomly occurs in the KRAS gene, usually in a cancerous tumor. KRAS mutations are most often found in certain cancer types, including pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer. These mutations are only found in the cells in a tumor. If you have cancer, your tumor can be tested to see it has any mutations.

Both genetic variants and genetic mutations can cause genetic diseases, including cancer 9.


Genetic variants, like the KRAS-variant, are inherited.

Genetic variants are always inherited from a parent. Any genetic variant you have is present in every cell of your body.

Pathogenic variants are genetic variants that can lead to disease, like cancer. While these variants are sometimes referred to as ‘mutations’, the correct term is “pathogenic variant”.

For families with strong histories of cancer, a pathogenic variant is often the explanation since they can be passed down from generation to generation. The KRAS-variant is one example of a pathogenic variant, because it has been linked with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.


Genetic mutations, like KRAS-mutations, are genetic changes that happen during life.

Mutations are constantly happening in the DNA in your body’s cells. A mutation may be harmful or not, but typically, the body corrects these mutations. When it doesn’t, those genetic mutations can lead to cancer. The mutation always starts in one cell and can multiply, causing the cancer to grow.

KRAS mutations are not something you are both with, they are caused by damage to DNA that happens during a person’s lifetime in the KRAS gene.

KRAS mutations are most often found in certain cancer types, including pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer. These mutations are only found in the cells of a tumor.



Cancer is caused by genetic variants or genetic mutations.


Most cases of cancer have been attributed to genetic mutations resulting from environmental exposures.

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A recently discovered type of variant indicates that much more of cancer risk is likely inherited from your parents.

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These new variants can lead to an increased risk of cancer. However, because of the way this new class of variant works, they are likely to have identifiable triggers, and thus a path for prevention, as well as to act as a guide to selecting the best treatments.

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More on genetic differences, risk of disease, and the potential of these new biomarkers

Differences in your DNA are called genetic variants or genetic mutations.

Variants are inherited from a parent, while mutations are changes that develop during your life from external factors 8. Genetic variants that cause disease are referred to as “pathogenic genetic variants”. Diseases caused by genetic differences are called genetic diseases. Cancer is one example of a genetic disease 9.

graphic that shows how environment can lead to mutations which can then lead to cancer
graphic that shows specific variant can be a to higher risk of cancer

In addition to lifestyle choices and environmental factors, a small number of genetic variants have been previously found to increase one’s risk of cancer. These variants include BRCA and CHEK2, and they are present in all of a person's cells 10.

A newly discovered, unique class of inherited genetic variant can impact disease risk, but can also be managed by lifestyle choices.

The potential of these new variants to be managed by lifestyle choices means they are fundamentally different from any previously known genetic variants associated with disease risk.

graphic explaining this new type of variant can be impacted by lifestyle choices for desktop
graphic explaining this new type of variant can be impacted by lifestyle choices

The KRAS-variant is the first example of this unique class of genetic variant associated with cancer.

Research has found a decrease in estrogen, like what women experience during menopause, can trigger the onset of cancer in individuals with the KRAS-variant. If people with the KRAS-variant take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to replace that estrogen loss, they can dramatically reduce their risk of cancer 7.

It’s important to note that the KRAS-variant is much different from the more well-known KRAS mutations, which are genetic mutations that occur during someone’s lifetime that lead to cancer 11.

Another reason this new class of genetic variant is important is that other genetic diseases are likely to be explained by them.

Other diseases run in families, and while external exposures throughout life may trigger them, little is known about what those exposures are, or who may have genetic variants that would be triggered by them.

Discovering more of these types of variants and the external factors that increase the risk of disease is especially exciting, because those risks can potentially be reduced with interventions.

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The KRAS-variant is an inherited genetic mutation. By clicking the link below, you can learn more about the KRAS-variant and how it may affect your health.

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The world of genetics and medicine continues to evolve. Education is one of the foundations of MiraKind. We will provide you regular updates in an easily digestible format.

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