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Hered Cancer Clin Pract. 2010 Oct 29;8(1):8. doi: 10.1186/1897-4287-8-8.

Population screening for hereditary and familial cancer syndromes in Valka district of Latvia.

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Hereditary Cancer Institute, Rīga Stradiņš University, Dzirciema Street 16, LV 1007, Riga, Latvia.



The growing possibilities of cancer prevention and treatment as well as the increasing knowledge about hereditary cancers require proper identification of the persons at risk. The aim of this study was to test the outcome of population screening in the scientific and practical evaluation of hereditary cancer.


Population screening for hereditary cancer was carried out retrospectively in a geographic area of Latvia. Family cancer histories were collected from 18642 adults representing 76.6% of the population of this area. Hereditary cancer syndromes were diagnosed clinically. Molecular testing for BRCA1 founder mutations 300 T/G, 4153delA and 5382insC was conducted in 588 persons who reported at least one case of breast or ovary cancer among blood relatives.


Clinically, 74 (0.40%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.32 - 0.50%) high-risk and 548 (2.94%, 95% CI: 2.71 - 3.19) moderate-risk hereditary cancer syndromes were detected covering wide cancer spectrum. All syndromes were characterised by high cancer frequency among blood relatives ranging 8.6 - 46.2% in contrast to spouse correlation of 2.5 - 3.6%. The mean age of cancer onset ranged 38.0 - 72.0 years in different syndromes. The BRCA1 gene mutations were identified in 10 (1.7%; 95% CI: 0.9 - 3.1%) probands. Families with established BRCA1 gene founder mutations were identified with the frequency 1:2663 clinically screened persons.


Population screening is a useful practical tool for the identification of persons belonging to families with high frequency of malignant tumours. The whole hereditary and familial cancer spectrum along with the age structure was identified adjusting follow-up guidelines. Another benefit of the population screening is the possibility to identify oncologically healthy persons belonging to hereditary and familial cancer families so that appropriate surveillance can be offered. Clinical diagnostics is appropriate for population screening purposes; molecular investigation provides additional information. In collaboration with family doctors, the screening is technically manageable as characterised by high compliance.

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