Reuters Health Information (2005-07-29): Risk of pancreatic cancer doubled in first-degree relatives of probands
Risk of pancreatic cancer doubled in first-degree relatives of probands
Last Updated: 2005-07-29 15:15:30 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Parents, offspring, and
siblings of patients with pancreatic cancer are at increased risk of
the same malignancy, according to a study at the Mayo Clinic College of
Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota.
"Other reports have suggested that pancreatic cancer seems to have a
genetic component, so we wanted to examine our registry to see if
relatives of our patients have an increased risk for pancreatic cancer
and other cancers," lead investigator Dr. Robert R. McWilliams told
Reuters Health. "We were also trying to find if there are any
associations with other malignancies that might lead us to find an
etiology for inheritance of pancreatic cancer risk."
This is important, he added, since pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the US.
Dr. McWilliams and his associates surveyed 426 consecutive patients
with pancreatic cancer who presented between 2000 and 2004. Rates of
malignancy among 3355 first-degree relatives were compared with
population data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results
Project (SEER) 9. Their findings appear in the July 15th issue of
There were 30 cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed among
first-degree relatives. The standardized incidence ratio (SIR) for
pancreatic cancer was 1.88. Relatives of probands diagnosed with
pancreatic cancer before age 60 were at even greater increased risk
"This adds to other data that suggests there is a genetic syndrome specific to pancreatic cancer," Dr. McWilliams said.
Other than liver cancer, there were no associations with other
malignancies in families with pancreatic cancer. Even for liver cancer,
where risk appeared to be approximately doubled, Dr. McWilliams
believes that the elevated risk reflects the fact that pancreatic
cancer tends to metastasize to the liver.
What do these findings mean clinically? "I do think relatives should
know of the possibility that they are at increased risk," the
researcher said, "and should be aware of symptoms such as weight loss
and jaundice, so that if they do get pancreatic cancer it has a higher
chance of being caught early."
He noted that the Mayo Clinic is part of a consortium of major
medical centers currently performing a linkage study to determine if
there is a susceptibility gene or genes responsible for the familial