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Kin of non-smokers with lung cancer seen at risk

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Apr 5 (Reuters) First-degree relatives of non-smoking individuals diagnosed with lung cancer have an increased likelihood of developing any type of cancer, researchers report.

These relatives are also more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer themselves, especially at an early age, compared with first-degree relatives of healthy non-smokers without lung cancer.

''These findings suggest that there is some genetic susceptibility to cancers in families in which a person has lung cancer and has never smoked,'' Dr.Olga Gorlova from the University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston told Reuters Health.

She presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The researchers compared the number of cancers among 2465 first-degree relatives (parents, children, and siblings) of 316 never-smoking lung cancer patients and 2442 first-degree relatives of 318 never-smoking healthy ''controls'' without lung cancer.

Compared with relatives of healthy controls, relatives of lung cancer patients had a 25 per cent greater risk for all types of cancer, including melanoma, colorectal, head and neck cancer, lung, prostate and breast cancer, she reported.

Offspring of lung cancer patients had a 2-fold greater risk for any cancer, while mothers of lung cancer patients had more than double the risk of developing breast cancer compared with mothers of healthy controls.

There was a 44 per cent greater risk of cancers diagnosed at an early age (before age 50) among relatives of lung cancer patients. In particular, there was a greater than 6-fold risk of young-onset lung cancer in these patients.

Overall, relatives of lung cancer patients had a 68 per cent increased risk of developing lung cancer.

First-degree relatives of never-smoking lung cancer patients, Gorlova said, ''should be advised not to smoke first of all, because they are at high risk for lung cancer. Also, they might be a group for screening for lung cancer, if screening is ever recommended for lung cancer. It's not now.'' Reuters SI GC0846

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