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With Pancreatic Cancer, Age Factors Into Familial Risk

Having relative diagnosed before 50 adds to likelihood of diagnosis, study finds

TUESDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- People with a family member who had pancreatic cancer before age 50 face a greatly increased risk for the disease, a new study has found.

Researchers already knew that people with several relatives diagnosed with pancreatic cancer were more likely than others to develop the disease, but it wasn't clear whether the relatives' age when they got the disease played any role.

They found, though, that risk increased ninefold when just one of several family members with the disease developed it before turning 50.

The finding, published online Jan. 12 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, stemmed from a review of the medical records of more than 9,000 people in 1,718 families.

The researchers also found that people with multiple relatives with pancreatic cancer were found to have a sixfold higher risk for pancreatic cancer, and chances of developing the cancer doubled if a person had just a single relative with the disease.

"These data should help to further inform risk assessment and subsequent early detection screening of individuals at high risk of developing pancreatic cancer," wrote the researchers, from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

The study, they said, had a caveat: Family members of people with pancreatic cancer may have undergone screening that could have made it more likely that they'd be diagnosed with the disease.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on pancreatic cancer.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, Jan. 12, 2010

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