Background: The observation of a familial accumulation of ductal pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PC) and the increased risk for PC in certain hereditary tumor syndromes point to a genetic predisposition for PC. In order to evaluate the characteristics of familial PC, a German national case collection for familial pancreas cancer (FaPaCa) was established.
Patients and methods: In FaPaCa, families of patients with PC are being collected, who have at least 1 first-degree relative with PC or with malignant melanoma. Histopathologic verification of tumor diagnoses, acquisition of clinical data, and full genetic counselling are prerequisites for the enrollment of PC families in FaPaCa.
Results: So far, 21 families fulfilled the criteria for partaking in FaPaCa. In 11 families, PC represented the sole tumor entity. Additional tumors included malignant melanoma in 5, breast cancer in 3, and prostatic, colon or lung cancer in 2 families. Compared to the preceding generation, a younger age at diagnosis of PC was observed in the offspring of PC patients (offspring median 53 years vs. parents median 75.5 years).
Conclusion: The association of PC and breast cancer, and of PC and malignant melanoma suggests predisposing mutations in the BRCA2 or CDKN2A genes in about one third of the FaPaCa families. Mutational analyses in both candidate genes may help to identify individuals who are at an increased risk for developing PC. A shift towards a younger age at diagnosis in our PC families may indicate genetic anticipation and/or changes of patterns of exogenous risk factors.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger GmbH, Freiburg