Incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer in individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer

Gastroenterology. 2015 Nov;149(6):1438-1445.e1. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2015.07.055. Epub 2015 Aug 5.


Background & aims: Little is known about the change in risk conferred by family history of colorectal cancer (CRC) as a person ages. We evaluated the effect of family history on CRC incidence and mortality after 55 years of age, when the risk of early onset cancer had passed.

Methods: We collected data from participants in the randomized, controlled Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian cancer screening trial of flexible sigmoidoscopy versus usual care (55-74 years old, no history of CRC), performed at 10 US centers from 1993 to 2001. A detailed family history of colorectal cancer was obtained at enrollment, and subjects were followed for CRC incidence and mortality for up to 13 years.

Results: Among 144,768 participants, 14,961 subjects (10.3%) reported a family of CRC. Of 2090 incident cases, 273 cases (13.1%) had a family history of CRC; among 538 deaths from CRC, 71 (13.2%) had a family history of CRC. Overall, family history of CRC was associated with an increased risk of CRC incidence (hazard ratio [HR], 1.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10-1.50; P<.0001) and increased mortality (HR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.02-1.69; P = .03). Subjects with 1 first degree relative (FDR) with CRC (n = 238; HR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.07-1.42) or ≥2 FDRs with CRC (n = 35; HR, 2.04; 95% CI, 1.44-2.86) were at increased risk for incident CRC. However, among individuals with 1 FDR with CRC, there were no differences in risk based on age at diagnosis in the FDR (for FDR <60 years of age: HR, 1.27; 95% CI, 0.97-1.63; for FDR 60-70 years of age: HR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.06-1.62; for FDR >70 years of age: HR, 1.14; 95% CI, 0.93-1.45; P trend = .59).

Conclusions: After 55 years of age, subjects with 1 FDR with CRC had only a modest increase in risk for CRC incidence and death; age of onset in the FDR was not significantly associated with risk. Individuals with ≥2 FDRs with CRC had continued increased risk in older age. Guidelines and clinical practice for subjects with a family history of CRC should be modified to align CRC testing to risk. number, NCT00002540.

Keywords: Adenomatous Polyps; Colon Cancer; Genetic Risk Factors; Screening.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Colonoscopy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sigmoidoscopy*

Associated data