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J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2010 Sep;24(9):1031-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2010.03572.x. Epub 2010 Feb 25.

The high rate of familial lichen sclerosus suggests a genetic contribution: an observational cohort study.

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Department of Dermatology, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, UK.



Familial lichen sclerosus (LS) has been described in only 37 families. We feel that the association is under-reported.


To determine the percentage of patients with LS who have a positive family history.


A large observational-cohort study of a total of 1052 females at vulval clinics within a University Hospital with a diagnosis of LS of the vulva (clinical diagnosis was confirmed in 80% of cases by histology). Patients were questioned as to family history of LS or balanitis xerotica obliterans; male circumcision for medical reasons; vulval cancer; and routine medical and family history. The outcome was the presence or absence of personal or family history of LS, autoimmune disorder or vulval cancer.


In total 1052 patients were investigated. Of these, 126 (12%) had a positive family history of LS. These patients belonged to 95 families. Vulval cancer was significantly increased in those with a family history of LS compared with those without (4.1% vs. 1.2%, P < 0.05). There was more associated autoimmune disease in familial LS than in sporadic LS, although this was not statistically significant. (7% vs. 5%, P > 0.2).


Our data from a large cohort of patients with LS provide evidence of an increased risk for family members to develop LS. This indicates a likely genetic component in the aetiology of LS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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