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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Sep;13(9):1415-21.

Risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and family history of lymphatic, hematologic, and other cancers.

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Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.



An elevated risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) has been associated with a family history of NHL and several other malignancies, but the magnitude of risks and mechanisms are uncertain.


We used self-reported family history data from a recent multicenter U.S.-based case-control studies of NHL to evaluate familial aggregation of NHL with various hematolymphoproliferative and other cancers. Estimates of familial aggregation were obtained as hazard ratios (HR) that compare incidence of different cancers in first-degree relatives of NHL cases with that in the first-degree relatives of NHL controls. Limitations of the study included low participation rates (76% for cases and 52% for controls) and potential differential accuracy of recall.


Risk of NHL was elevated in relatives of NHL cases [HR, 2.9; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.95-8.53]; the aggregation seems to be stronger for siblings (HR, 7.6; 95% CI, 0.98-58.8) and for male relatives (HR, 6.2; 95% CI, 0.77-50.0). Risk of Hodgkin's lymphoma seems to be also elevated among relatives of early-onset (<50 years) NHL cases (HR, 3.2; 95% CI, 0.88-11.6). Evaluation of family history of other cancers provided modest evidence for an increased risk of melanoma of the skin (HR, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.08-7.75), pancreatic cancer (HR, 2.1; 95% CI, 0.96-4.43), stomach cancer (HR, 1.8; 95% CI, 0.91-3.63), and prostate cancer (HR, 1.3; 95% CI, 0.87-1.99).


These results are consistent with previous findings of familial aggregation of NHL, Hodgkin's lymphoma, and a few other cancers. The pattern of male-specific and sibling-specific familial aggregation of NHL we observed, if confirmed, may shed new light on the possible mechanisms that underlie familial aggregation of the disease.

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