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Cell Biochem Biophys. 2014 Sep;70(1):123-7. doi: 10.1007/s12013-014-9867-x.

Characteristics of malignant tumors in 230 husband-wife pairs.

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Department of Cancer Prevention, Cancer Institute/Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China.


The aim of this study is to obtain a reference point for early detection of tumors in individuals whose spouses were diagnosed with malignant tumors. Data from 230 husband and wife pairs with malignant tumors were collected and analyzed from the family history records of 15,000 people who came to the Department of Cancer Prevention, Cancer Institute/Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences for cancer screening between January 2009 and May 2012. The median diagnosis age was 67 years for husbands and 65 years for wives. A total of 214 cases (46.5 %) had digestive system malignancies. Respiratory system cancers were diagnosed in 64 husbands, of whom 20 (31.3 %) had spouses also with respiratory system cancer. Lung cancer ranked first for the females. The total number of lung cancer and commonly seen female-specific cancers (breast, ovarian, uterine, and cervical) was 127 (55.2 %). The difference in age at diagnosis between spouses was less than 10 years in 134 couples (58.3 %), while 77 (33.5 %) couples had an age difference less than 5 years. A family history of malignant tumors in first-degree relatives was documented in 48.3 % of the husbands and 48.7 % of the wives. The occurrence of cancer in both spouses of the couples studied resulted from an interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Nonhereditary factors such as diet, smoking, passive smoking, and air pollution also contributed to the development of cancers. It is recommended that when husband is diagnosed with cancer, the wife should be screened focusing on lung, breast, and gynecological cancers. If the wife was diagnosed with malignant disease, then screening for lung and digestive system cancers should be emphasized in the husband.

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