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  • Frank, Christoph; Sundquist, Jan; Yu, Hongyao; Hemminki, Akseli; Hemminki, Kari (2017)
    Relatives of cancer patients are at an increased risk of the same (concordant) cancer but whether they are at a risk for different (discordant) cancers is largely unknown - beyond well characterized hereditary cancer syndromes - but would be of major scientific and clinical interest. We therefore decided to resolve the issue by analyzing familial risks when family members were diagnosed with any discordant cancers. We compared the population impact of concordant to discordant familial cancer. The Swedish Family-Cancer Database (FCD) was used to calculate familial relative risks (RRs) for family members of cancer patients, for the 27 most common cancers. Population attributable fractions (PAFs) were estimated for concordant and discordant family histories. Discordant cancers in the family were detected as significant risk factors for the majority of cancers, although the corresponding RRs were modest compared to RRs for concordant cancers. Risks increased with the number of affected family members with the highest RRs for pancreatic (2.31), lung (1.69), kidney (1.98), nervous system (1.79) and thyroid cancers (3.28), when 5 or more family members were diagnosed with discordant cancers. For most cancers, the PAF for discordant family history exceeded that for concordant family history. Our findings suggest that there is an unspecific genetic predisposition to cancer with clinical consequences. We consider it unlikely that shared environmental risk factors could essentially contribute to the risks for diverse discordant cancers, which are likely driven by genetic predisposition. The identification of genes that moderately increase the risk for many cancers will be a challenge.
  • Nordic Twin Study Canc NorTwinCan; Harris, Jennifer R.; Hjelmborg, Jacob; Adami, Hans-Olov; Czene, Kamila; Mucci, Lorelei; Kaprio, Jaakko (2019)
    Nordic twin studies have played a critical role in understanding cancer etiology and elucidating the nature of familial effects on site-specific cancers. The NorTwinCan consortium is a collaborative effort that capitalizes on unique research advantages made possible through the Nordic system of registries. It was constructed by linking the population-based twin registries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to their country-specific national cancer and cause-of-death registries. These linkages enable the twins to be followed many decades for cancer incidence and mortality. To date, two major linkages have been conducted: NorTwinCan I in 2011-2012 and NorTwinCan II in 2018. Overall, there are 315,413 eligible twins, 57,236 incident cancer cases and 58 years of follow-up, on average. In the initial phases of our work, NorTwinCan established the world's most comprehensive twin database for studying cancer, developed novel analytical approaches tailored to address specific research considerations within the context of the Nordic data and leveraged these models and data in research publications that provide the most accurate estimates of heritability and familial risk of cancers reported in the literature to date. Our findings indicate an excess familial risk for nearly all cancers and demonstrate that the incidence of cancer among twins mirrors the rate in the general population. They also revealed that twin concordance for cancer most often manifests across, rather than within, cancer sites, and we are currently focusing on the analysis of these cross-cancer associations.