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Br J Cancer. 1997;75(7):1084-7.

A segregation analysis of testicular cancer based on Norwegian and Swedish families.

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Department of Genetics, Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo.


Clustering of testicular cancer cases in families is well known, although the aetiology is not. We present the results of a segregation analysis performed with the algorithm Pointer on familial data on 978 Scandinavian patients with testicular cancer. The segregation analysis favoured the involvement of major gene effects over models incorporating solely polygenic effects in testicular cancer aetiology. Overall, a recessive model best fits the family observations with an estimated gene frequency of 3.8% and a lifetime risk for homozygous men of developing the disease of 43%. This implies that 7.6% of men in the general population will be carriers of the mutant allele and that 0.1% would be homozygote and are, therefore, at high risk of developing the cancer. The testicular cancer incidence has changed greatly during the last generation. Also, the lethality of the disease has changed because of the introduction of new therapy. As failure to take account of such time trends might lead to inappropriate evidence for a recessive model, the analyses were repeated under different assumptions. The analyses favoured a recessive model of inheritance under all assumptions tested. However, the assumptions underlying the analyses are complex and, as this is the first segregation analysis of testicular cancer, the results must be interpreted cautiously.

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