Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Cancer. 2014 Apr 15;134(8):1899-906. doi: 10.1002/ijc.28510. Epub 2013 Oct 31.

The population impact of familial cancer, a major cause of cancer.

Author information

Division of Molecular Genetic Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 580, Heidelberg, Germany.


The population attributable fraction (PAF) defines the proportion of a disease that would be prevented if the exposure to a particular risk factor was avoided. Familial risk is a known risk factor for many cancers, but an unbiased estimation of the PAF for familial risk requires a large study population to include rare cancers. PAFs and their corresponding standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated for familial relative risk among first-degree relatives (FDRs) and second-degree relatives (SDRs) diagnosed with the same (concordant) invasive or in situ cancers. Calculations were based on the Swedish Family-Cancer Database considering 8,148,737 individuals. To assess environmental effects, PAFs were also calculated for concordant cancers among spouses. Almost all cancers showed a significant familial risk. The highest PAFs were found for the common cancers of the prostate (13.94%), breast (7.46%) and colorectum (6.78%) among the FDRs. In the FDRs, the overall PAF for any concordant cancer was 4.20%, but in the SDRs, it was only 0.34%. The overall PAFs for in situ cancers were 0.86% and 0.56% for the FDRs and SDRs, respectively. The overall independent familial PAF was 5.96% for the invasive and in situ cancers in the FDRs and SDRs. The cancers between spouses yielded an overall PAF of 0.14%. For esophageal cancer, the risk among spouses was higher than the familial risk. Our study shows that the overall familial PAF of 5.96%, although underestimated for sex-specific cancers, ranks as the third most common population burden after tobacco smoking and unhealthy diet.


Sweden; familial risk; population attributable fraction; spouse risk; standardized incidence ratio

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center