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
A man has been rescued by firefighters - after getting his head stuck inside a washing machine.
Late-running passengers who attempt to pass through security with less than 30 minutes before their flight departs will now be stopped.
A Ukrainian pilot who spent two years in prison in Russia has been sworn into national parliament after being released last week.