Children of mothers with colorectal cancer have increased cancer risk

Last Modified: November 1, 2001

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WESTPORT, Aug 28 (Reuters Health) - Children of women with colorectal carcinoma have increased risk of some cancers, suggesting that genetics may play a role, according to Swedish researchers.

Dr. Maria Planck, of Lund University Hospital, and colleagues identified 24,639 Swedish women diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer between 1958 and 1993. These women had a total of 47,811 children who were born between 1941 and 1993 and were followed for the incidence of 32 cancer types between 1961 and 1993.

As the investigators report in the August 15th issue of Cancer, the children had 1057 tumors compared with the expected national Swedish incidence of 988. They had increased risks of developing colon cancer, rectal cancer and, in males, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The risk of colon or rectal cancer was highest for children whose mothers were younger than 50 years of age at diagnosis or developed metachronous colorectal cancer.

Children of women with colon cancer had an increased risk of both colon and rectal cancer, while children of women with rectal cancer had an increased risk of developing rectal cancer but not colon cancer.

Among children of women with colon cancer, the risk of cervical cancer, oral cancer, and, in females, Hodgkin's disease was lower than expected, and among children of women with rectal cancer, the risk of stomach cancer was lower than expected. Overall, however, the research team determined that the children's risk of developing cancer before the age of 50 years was 3.0 times that of the general population.

"This report shows a significant familial aggregation of colorectal carcinoma, demonstrates possible differences in hereditary pattern between colon carcinoma and rectal carcinoma, and confirms that younger age at the time of diagnosis or the occurrence of metachronous tumors indicate familial carcinoma," Dr. Planck and colleagues conclude.


  • Cancer 2000;89:741-749.


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