Cancer children more prone to survive if parents did

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LONDON, Nov 3 (Reuters) Children whose parents beat certain types of cancer have a better chance of doing the same if they get the disease themselves, according to a Swedish study suggesting that survival traits are passed on.

The research, published in the November issue of Lancet Oncology, said good survival -- defined as living for at least 10 years past the cancer diagnosis -- extended to breast, lung, prostate and colorectal cancers.

Both genetic and environmental factors likely play a role, said researchers, who used a database of more than 3 million families.

Children with the same cancer as a parent who died within 10 years of diagnosis had a much bleaker outlook compared to children whose parents survived longer after developing the disease, the study found.

For these people, the risk of dying from the same disease as their parents was 75 per cent higher for breast cancer, 107 per cent for prostate cancer, 44 per cent for colorectal cancer and 39 per cent for lung cancer.

''(The) findings, if confirmed, might have practical implications for family members and their physicians,'' Ora Paltiel, a researcher at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Centre in Jerusalem, wrote in a commentary.

''For example, additional useful information might now be available for children who have a parent affected by a rapidly fatal cancer, which could act as a basis for specific therapeutic and preventative decisions.'' Cancer is the second-largest cause of disease-related death in the developed world and kills more than 7 million people each year globally, according to the World Health Organisation. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death.

Knowledge that some families are prone to poor survival could provide doctors with a vital tool to predict more accurately how quickly a tumour will grow when an individual is diagnosed with cancer, other researchers said.

REUTERS PD PM0836

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