Cancer Genomics and Heredity

This loan kit includes a problem-based learning case and hands-on modeling kit designed to teach students about the genetics of cancer and cancer predisposition. Students read through a fictional scenario in which a teenage girl is diagnosed with osteosarcoma and suspected of having inherited mutations in the TP53 gene. This case study is written for a middle school or high school biology course to reinforce the concepts of cell differentiation, genetics, and heredity. 


Learning Objectives

In this lesson, students will:

  • Define cancer, specifically osteosarcoma;
  • Describe signs and symptoms of osteosarcoma; 
  • Compare and contrast x-rays from a normal bone versus one with osteosarcoma;
  • Differentiate between inherited and spontaneous cancer;
  • Model TP53 gene variations and evaluate the impact of gene alterations on protein function; and
  • Analyze genetic testing results.



Cancer in the Family (student handout / clicker case)

How to Draw a Family Pedigree Instructions (handout)

DNA Sequencing (handout)

3D Molecular Design DNA Translation and Transcription Modeling Kit


Time Required

3 x 45 minute class periods


Pacing Guide

Day 1

5-7 minutes

Cancer in the Family: Part 1

5-7 minutes

Cancer in the Family: Part 2

25-30 minutes

Making a Family Pedigree


Day 2

5-7 minutes

Cancer in the Family: Part 3

35-40 minutes

TP53 and Cancer


Day 3

5-7 minutes

Cancer in the Family: Part 4

35-40 minutes

Whole Genome Sequencing and Genetic Testing