Professor Douglas Easton said there was a "big excitement" about discovering around 80 genetic variants linked to common cancers.
"We can use this information to develop risk profiles of individuals to identify people who are at either high or low risk of these cancers," he added.
People at high risk would be encouraged to have earlier and more regular screenings for the disease, he said.
More top news
Favourite Jessica Ennis-Hill is joined by last minute additions Tyson Fury and Andy Murray on the list of Sports Personality nominees.
Jenny Fry, 15, claimed she had electro-hypersensitivity (EHS) which caused her to suffer tiredness, headaches and bladder problems.
Mild in the south but colder in the north tonight and turning frosty and icy - before rain moves in.