The kin-cohort study for estimating penetrance

Am J Epidemiol. 1998 Oct 1;148(7):623-30. doi: 10.1093/aje/148.7.623.


A cross-sectional study may be more feasible than a cohort or case-control study for examining the effect of a genetic mutation on cancer penetrance outside of cancer families. The kin-cohort design uses volunteer probands selected from a population with a relatively high frequency of the mutations of interest. By considering the cancer risk in first-degree relatives of mutation-positive and -negative probands as a weighted average of the risk in carriers and noncarriers, with weights calculated assuming a known mode of inheritance, one can infer the penetrance of the mutations. The estimates of penetrance by age 70 years for three specific mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes common among Ashkenazi Jews for the first occurrence of breast or ovary cancer is 63%. The kin-cohort design can be a useful tool for quickly estimating penetrance from volunteers in a setting in which the mutation prevalence is relatively high.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Case-Control Studies*
  • Cohort Studies*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1 / genetics
  • Humans
  • Jews / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors