Population-based family history-specific risks for colorectal cancer: a constellation approach

Gastroenterology. 2010 Mar;138(3):877-85. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2009.11.044. Epub 2009 Dec 21.


Background & aims: Colorectal cancer (CRC) risk estimates based on family history typically include only close relatives. We report familial relative risk (FRR) in probands with various combinations, or constellations, of affected relatives, extending to third-degree.

Methods: A population-based resource that includes a computerized genealogy linked to statewide cancer records was used to identify genetic relationships among CRC cases and their first-, second-, and third-degree relatives (FDRs, SDRs, and TDRs). FRRs were estimated by comparing the observed number of affected persons with a particular family history constellation to the expected number, based on cohort-specific CRC rates.

Results: A total of 2,327,327 persons included in > or =3 generation family histories were analyzed; 10,556 had a diagnosis of CRC. The FRR for CRC in persons with > or =1 affected FDR = 2.05 (95% CI, 1.96-2.14), consistent with published estimates. In the absence of a positive first-degree family history, considering both affected SDRs and TDRs, only 1 constellation had an FRR estimate that was significantly >1.0 (0 affected FDRs, 1 affected SDR, 2 affected TDRs; FRR = 1.33; 95% CI, 1.13-1.55). The FRR for persons with 1 affected FDR, 1 affected SDR, and 0 affected TDRs was 1.88 (95% CI, 1.59-2.20), increasing to FRR = 3.28 (95% CI, 2.44-4.31) for probands with 1 affected FDR, 1 affected SDR, and > or =3 affected TDRs.

Conclusions: Increased numbers of affected FDRs influences risk much more than affected SDRs or TDRs. However, when combined with a positive first-degree family history, a positive second- and third-degree family history can significantly increase risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pedigree
  • Population Surveillance
  • Registries
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Utah / epidemiology