Inherited risk of early-onset cancer higher among BAME families

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Increased risk of cancer due to a genetic predisposition in first- and second-degree relatives is long-established but has previously only been studied in white or European populations.

Now, a new study published in eLife is the first to demonstrate that the inherited risk of early-onset is significantly higher among Latino and African American families for , and Asian/Pacific Islander families for blood-based cancers, compared to non-Latino white families in California.

"Cancer clustering within families, meaning the devastating diagnosis of more than one early-onset cancer within the same family, usually points to a genetic cause. Interestingly, family cancer clustering has only been examined previously at the in white, or European origin population studies," says study author Joseph Wiemels, Ph.D., a member of the Cancer Epidemiology Program at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and professor of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. "In this study, we looked at clustering of cancer cases in young family members in California over the past 30 years within non-white populations and compared it, for the first time, to white populations. We found that family-based cancer clustering occurs more frequently among minority populations."

Researchers used California population-based health registries to evaluate the relative cancer risk among parents, siblings and children of patients diagnosed with cancer by the age of 26. Between 1989 and 2015, they identified 29,632 early-onset cancer patients and then examined cancer incidence in 62,863 healthy family members. They found that overall, mothers and siblings of those cancer patients had a higher relative risk of early onset cancer. But when they looked at the role of race and ethnicity in , they found that for patients with solid tumors, the familial cancer risk was significantly higher for Latino and non-Latino Black mothers and siblings compared to non-Latino white families. Asian/Pacific Islanders had a higher familial risk for blood-based cancers compared to non-Latino whites.

This study demonstrates the need for increased scrutiny on familial cancer clustering in minority populations. This information could help and genetic counselors offer more precision-based care and advice, particularly in the multiethnic populations that reside in Los Angeles County.

Explore further

Inherited mutation linked to higher prostate cancer risk in African American families

More information: Qianxi Feng et al, Increased burden of familial-associated early-onset cancer risk among minority Americans compared to non-Latino Whites, eLife (2021). DOI: 10.7554/eLife.64793
Journal information: eLife

Citation: Inherited risk of early-onset cancer higher among BAME families (2021, June 23) retrieved 28 July 2021 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments