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Family members of children with cancer may also be at risk
Date:8/7/2013

SALT LAKE CITYWhen a child is diagnosed with cancer, one of the first questions the parents ask is "Will my other children get cancer?" A new study from Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah suggests the answer to that question depends on whether a family history of cancer exists. The research results were published online in the International Journal of Cancer and will appear in the November 15 print issue.

The study, led by Joshua Schiffman, M.D., medical director of HCI's High Risk Pediatric Cancer Clinic and a pediatric hematologist/oncologist in in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah, examined the family medical history of 4,482 children diagnosed with cancer over a 43-year period to determine the cancer risk in their relatives.

The research team found that when children were diagnosed with any kind of cancer at age 18 or younger, the risk to their parents, siblings, or children for childhood cancer doubled compared to families with no childhood cancer patients. If the cancer diagnosis came when the child was age 4 or less, the risk to close relatives for childhood cancer increased almost four times.

"No one had previously studied the question, so we simply told parents there was no evidence of increased risk to the other children," said Schiffman. "Now we can give an evidence-based answerthe risk depends on your family history of cancer."

This is the first study that uses the Utah Population Database (UPDB) to broadly examine the risk of all types of cancer in relatives of children with cancer. This unique resource at the University of Utah links genealogies and cancer registry data from Utah to medical records and vital records, including Utah death certificates.

"Because our data came from the UPDB, the assessment of family history in our study does not rely on self- or family-reported medical history," said lead author Karen Curtin, Ph.D., a genetic epidemiologis
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Contact: Lida Aagard
801-587-7639
University of Utah Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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