Lung cancer risk in germline p53 mutation carriers: association between an inherited cancer predisposition, cigarette smoking, and cancer risk

Hum Genet. 2003 Aug;113(3):238-43. doi: 10.1007/s00439-003-0968-7. Epub 2003 Jun 11.


We recently observed a significantly increased risk for lung cancer in carriers of p53 germline mutations. Because cigarette smoking is known to play an important role in increasing the risk for lung cancer in the general population, we wanted to determine the role of cigarette smoking in lung cancer risk in people with a genetic susceptibility based on a p53 germline mutation. We studied 1263 people from 97 families enrolled in a cohort study of families systematically ascertained through childhood soft-tissue sarcoma patients treated at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas, between 1944 and 1975. We assessed the incidence of lung and smoking-related cancers in 33 carriers of germline p53 mutations and in 1,230 noncarriers to determine whether there was an association between an inherited cancer predisposition, cigarette smoking, and cancer risk. We analyzed the association between cigarette smoking, mutation status, and lung and other smoking-related cancers by the Kaplan-Meier method and the Cox proportional hazards model with adjustments for birth year, race, and sex. In the hazards model, we incorporated a robust variance estimation to adjust for familial correlation. We observed an increased risk of a variety of histological types of lung cancer in the carriers of the p53 germline mutation. Mutation carriers who smoked had a 3.16-fold (95% confidence interval =1.48-6.78) higher risk for lung cancer than the mutation carriers who did not smoke. Our results demonstrate that cigarette smoking significantly increases lung cancer risk in carriers of a germline p53 mutation. This finding could be useful in designing strategies for early detection and treatment of lung and smoking-related cancers in individuals with this inherited cancer predisposition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Germ-Line Mutation*
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53