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Family History Raises Risk of Blood Cancer

Having a parent, sibling or child with blood cancer raises an individual’s risk of also receiving a blood cancer diagnosis, according to the results of a large European study.
BY Katie Kosko
PUBLISHED September 16, 2019
Having a parent, sibling or child with blood cancer raises an individual’s risk of also receiving a blood cancer diagnosis, according to the results of a large European study.

Age at diagnosis and the number of affected first-degree relatives also are major risk factors, according to study findings published in Blood.

Researchers analyzed data from the Swedish Family-Cancer Database, which included 153,115 patients with a blood cancer and 391,131 first-degree relatives. The highest relative risks were seen in certain Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) subtypes, lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma. Elevated risk was also observed for myelodysplastic syndrome and polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia, two types of myeloproliferative neoplasms.

The increased risk of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) depended on the age of the affected relative and the number of first-degree relatives, the researchers found. In cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, HL and CLL, individuals who had a sibling with the disease were at higher risk.

The familial risk was more pronounced when relatives were diagnosed at younger ages, according to study findings.

Based on the data, lead author Dr. Amit Sud from the Institute of Cancer Research in London hopes to provide information for guidelines on genetic testing and screening. “The results should also encourage conversations among families, clinicians and patients about familial risk,” Sud said in a press release.
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