Familial risks and proportions describing population landscape of familial cancer

Kari Hemminki, Kristina Sundquist, Jan Sundquist, Asta Försti, Akseli Hemminki, Xinjun Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Familial cancer can be defined through the occurrence of the same cancer in two or more family members. We describe a nationwide landscape of familial cancer, including its frequency and the risk that it conveys, by using the largest family database in the world with complete family structures and medically confirmed cancers. Patients/methods: We employed standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) to estimate familial risks for concordant cancer among first-degree relatives using the Swedish Cancer Registry from years 1958 through 2016. Results: Cancer risks in a 20–84 year old population conferred by affected parents or siblings were about two-fold compared to the risk for individuals with unaffected relatives. For small intestinal, testicular, thyroid and bone cancers and Hodgkin disease, risks were higher, five-to-eight-fold. Novel familial associations included adult bone, lip, pharyngeal, and connective tissue cancers. Familial cancers were found in 13.2% of families with cancer; for prostate cancer, the proportion was 26.4%. High-risk families accounted for 6.6% of all cancer families. Discussion/Conclusion: High-risk family history should be exceedingly considered for management, including targeted genetic testing. For the major proportion of familial clustering, where genetic testing may not be feasible, medical and behavioral intervention should be indicated for the patient and their family members, including screening recommendations and avoidance of carcinogenic exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4385
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2021


  • Familial proportion
  • Familial risk
  • Family-cancer database
  • High-risk families
  • Nationwide study


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