Objective: A case-control study was carried out to investigate the role of a family history of solid tumor or hematologic neoplasm in the etiology of childhood acute leukemia.
Methods: Family cancer history in first- and second-degree relatives was compared in 279 incident cases (242 cases of acute lymphocytic leukemia and 37 of acute myeloid leukemia) and 285 controls. Recruitment was stratified by age, gender, hospital, area of residence, and ethnic origin. Odds ratios (OR) were estimated using an unconditional regression model taking into account the stratification variables, socioeconomic status, and familial structure.
Results: A significant association between childhood acute leukemia and a family history of hematologic neoplasm (OR = 2.7, confidence interval (CI) = 1.1-6.9) was found. This association was particularly clear-cut when the cases were restricted to acute myeloid leukemia (OR = 13.3, CI = 2.5-70.9). Childhood acute leukemia was associated with a family history of solid tumor (OR = 1.5, CI = 1.0-2.2), and elevated odds ratios were observed for family history of gastrointestinal cancer and melanoma. Those results are most unlikely to be explained by socioeconomic status and familial structure, which were very similar for the cases and controls. Differential misclassification is also unlikely for the first-degree relatives, even though it is difficult to rule it out for the second-degree relatives' history.
Conclusion: The present study supports the hypothesis that a family history of cancer may be a risk factor for childhood acute leukemia.