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Br J Cancer. 1994 Jul;70(1):102-11.

Cancer experience in the relatives of an unselected series of breast cancer patients.

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  • 1Cancer Research Campaign Paediatric and Familial Cancer Research Group, Christie Hospital NHS Trust, Manchester, UK.


First- and second-degree relatives of an unselected series of 402 breast cancer patients have been studied for their cancer experience. In the first-degree relatives an excess of all cancers is seen [overall relative risk (RR) = 1.28, P = 0.002; males RR = 1.26, P = 0.047; females RR = 1.30, P = 0.022). There is a marked excess of sarcoma (RR = 4.26, P = 0.0064); females are at high risk of breast cancer (RR = 2.68, P < 0.0001) and males have an excess of carcinoma of the lip, oral cavity and pharynx (RR = 4.22, P = 0.0032). Second-degree relatives have a non-significant excess of all cancers (RR = 1.14, P = 0.14); females have a borderline excess of breast cancer (RR = 1.53, P = 0.08) and an excess of carcinoma of the kidney (RR = 7.46, P = 0.0012) and males have an excess of carcinoma of the trachea and lung (RR = 1.50, P = 0.032). No excess of prostate or ovarian carcinoma was seen. Relatives are at slightly higher risk if the index patient is diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 49 (first-degree RR = 1.64, P = 0.007; second-degree RR = 1.43, P = 0.02). The excess of cancers, including breast cancers, is not limited to a few high-risk families, but appears to be spread across many. These observations may be accounted for by shared environmental factors within families or a common predisposing gene with low penetrance.

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