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How prevalent is cancer family syndrome?
  1. F Kee,
  2. B J Collins
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Queen's University of Belfast.


    Based on an established but pragmatic definition of cancer family syndrome as the presence of three or more relatives affected by colorectal cancer in a first degree kinship, the contribution of this syndrome to the total cancer burden in Northern Ireland has been studied by investigating all non-polyposis probands under 55 years old at histological diagnosis between 1976 and 1978. Family interviews were possible for 95% (n = 205) of all non-polyposis probands and verification of vital status or medical history was obtained for 98% of 1811 first degree relatives. The prevalence of cancer family syndrome was between 1 and 2%, a figure some fivefold less than that estimated elsewhere. A proximal tumour excess was not characteristic of the ascertained families. These results may have implications for the identification of susceptible people if screening for high risk groups is considered a worthwhile option for reducing colorectal cancer mortality in the United Kingdom.

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