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Br J Cancer. 1996 Jul;74(2):280-4.

Cancer incidence in the first-degree relatives of ovarian cancer patients.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Turku University Hospital, Finland.


Cancer incidence was studied among 3072 first-degree relatives of 559 unselected ovarian cancer patients. Among cohort members there were 306 cancer cases. The overall cancer incidence was not increased: the standardised incidence ratio (SIR) in males was 0.9 (95% confidence interval 0.8-1.1) and in females 1.0 (0.8-1.1). The female relatives had a significantly increased risk for ovarian cancer (SIR 2.8, 1.8-4.2). The excess was attributable to sisters only (SIR 3.7, 2.3-5.7). The relative risk for ovarian cancer among sisters decreased both by increasing age of the sister and by increasing age at diagnosis of the index patient: the SIRs were 7.3 (1.5-21.4), 4.5 (1.6-9.8) and 3.1 (1.7-5.4) for sisters of index patients diagnosed in age < 45, 45-54 and 55-75 years respectively. The age dependency of the risk supports the role of genetic factors in familial ovarian cancer. Although the risk of ovarian cancer among sisters from families with breast cancer (SIR 9.2, 3.7-19.0) was significantly higher than among sisters from families with no breast cancer patients (SIR 2.9, 1.6-4.8, rate ratio 3.1, P < 0.05), the excess was not solely attributable to coaggregation of breast and ovarian cancer. Among the 27 families with two or more ovarian cancers, only sisters were affected in 24 families, which might implicate recessive inheritance or shared environmental factors influencing ovarian cancer risk in sisters.

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