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Study demonstrates that lung cancer susceptibility runs in families

Washington, D.C. - Studying thousands of people, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have documented a 25 percent increased risk of developing one of a number of cancers in first-degree relatives of lung cancer patients who have never smoked compared to families of people who neither smoke nor have lung cancer.

Researchers say their study, one of the largest ever done and the only one to include both men and women, strongly suggests that these lung cancer patients and their affected relatives share an inherited genetic susceptibility to cancer development.

"This study demonstrates the importance of familial factors in the general development of cancer," says the study's first author, Olga Gorlova, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology. "These susceptibility factors can be environmental, but are more likely to be influenced by genetic factors, because genes control pathways common to a number of cancers."

Such marked cancer susceptibility also likely explains why patients in this study, who never smoked but might have been exposed to secondhand smoke, developed lung cancer in the first place, she says. Gorlova will present the study at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). She will discuss the findings in a press briefing on Tuesday, April 4, 2006 at 11 a.m.

The research team, headed by Margaret Spitz, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology, looked at whether 2,465 first-degree relatives of 316 lung cancer patients who never smoked developed cancer. They also established a matched comparison group of 2,442 first-degree relatives of 318 "controls" - individuals who also never smoked but did not have lung cancer. (An individual's first-degree relatives include his/her parents, children and siblings - people who share one-half of that individual's genes.)

The median age of both cases (patients) and controls was about 6
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Contact: Nancy Jensen
nwjensen@mdanderson.org
713-745-1584
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
2-Apr-2006


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