The frequency of a positive family history for colorectal cancer: a population-based study in the Netherlands

Neth J Med. 2006 Nov;64(10):367-70.


Background: Subjects with a positive family history of colorectal cancer (CRC) have an increased risk of developing CRC themselves. This risk depends on the number of affected relatives and the age at diagnosis.

Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of a positive family history of CRC, within a random cohort among the dutch population.

Methods: A total of 5072 subjects aged between 45 and 70 years were invited to fill in an anonymous questionnaire about the occurrence of CRC in their first-degree relatives (FDR).

Results: The questionnaire was returned by 3973 subjects (78.3%). Thirty responders (0.8%) had CRC themselves. Of all unaffected responders, 441 (11.2%) subjects reported a positive family history of CRC. Ninety (2.3%) responders reported having an FDR with CRC diagnosed before the age of 50, or reported two or more FDRs with CRC.

Conclusion: The prevalence of a positive family history of CRC is substantial. Identification of this high-risk group by obtaining a thorough family history is the first step in targeting preventive measures.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prevalence