Second-, Third-Degree Relatives of Colon Cancer Patients at Risk of Developing the Ailment

October 13, 2021 10:40:50

A new study has discovered that having relatives who have colorectal cancer heightens an individual’s risk of developing this ailment. This study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Utah and the University of Buffalo, was published in the “Cancer Epidemiology” journal.

Physicians recommend that first-degree relatives of individuals diagnosed with early onset colorectal cancer begin screening before they reach 50 years of age. This is mainly because cases of early onset colorectal cancer have increased considerably in the last few decades. The research suggests that early screening may benefit second- and third-degree relatives as well. First-degree relatives include siblings, children and parents while second-degree relatives include nephews, nieces, grandchildren, grandparents, uncles and aunts; third-degree relatives include great-grandchildren, great-grandparents and first cousins.

The researchers discovered that first-degree relatives of individuals diagnosed with this type of cancer were six times more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer before they reached age 50, noting that in comparison with third-degree relatives who had two times the risk, second-degree relatives were three times more likely to be diagnosed with this cancer.

The study reviewed more than 1,500 early-onset cases of colon cancer in the Utah Cancer Registry.

Lisa Cannon-Albright, who is the School of Medicine’s leader of the genetic epidemiology program at the University of Utah, stated that resources, which include computerized genealogy data for most of the population and the Utah Cancer Registry by the National Cancer Institute, had made the partnership possible.

Associate Prof. Heather Ochs-Balcom, who is the first author of the study, stated that the research offered new insight into the magnitude of risk for distant relatives of individuals diagnosed with colorectal cancer, especially for relatives of individuals who were diagnosed before they reached age 50. She added that the research was important given the increasing rates of cases of early-onset colon cancer.

The research also discovered that people who had a first-degree relative with early-onset colorectal cancer were three times more likely to develop colorectal cancer. The researchers note that the risk for all degrees of relatives for early-onset colorectal cancer was higher in comparison to the risk of colon cancer at any age.

This discovery suggests that early screenings may be beneficial to first-degree relatives of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer before they reached 50 as well as both second- and third-degree relatives. In their report, the researchers highlight the importance of relatives becoming aware of their extended family history and sharing this information with their clinicians when making decisions on cancer screening.

With this in mind, the work done by companies such as AnPac Bio-Medical Science Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: ANPC), which are working to increase the affordability and availability of accurate early-cancer detection tools, may become increasingly important.

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