ARCAD: a method for estimating age-dependent disease risk associated with mutation carrier status from family data

Genet Epidemiol. 1995;12(1):13-25. doi: 10.1002/gepi.1370120103.


We present ARCAD, a method to estimate the disease risk associated with mutation carrier status using data on families ascertained by affected individuals, in which a germline mutation has been detected. Because the event of interest, the age of onset, is a censored variable, the method uses the survival analysis approach to formulate the likelihood. Provided that selection criteria are clearly defined, the ascertainment bias is removed by including a correction term in the likelihood computation. We simulated family data and selected those with a proband affected before age 17, and at least one or at least two relatives affected before age 46. We show that including the correction for the ascertainment provides reliable estimates of the risk, even when many individuals are not tested for the mutation. An application to cancer risk and germline p53 mutations is presented. We routinely investigate the p53 status for all the children treated in the Department of Pediatric Oncology at the Institute Gustave Roussy, whose family displays at least one relative affected by cancer before age 46. We identified 5 families with an inherited germline p53 mutation. The risk for any cancer for a mutation carrier estimated by ARCAD was 42% within the age class 0-16 years, 38% within the age class 17-45 years, and 63% after 45 years, with a lifetime risk of 85%. These risks are almost entirely explained by the occurrence of the six most frequent cancers encountered in the Li-Fraumeni syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Genes, p53 / genetics
  • Genetic Carrier Screening / methods*
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pedigree
  • Risk Factors
  • Selection Bias
  • Survival Analysis