Nearly one-third of all cancer cases may be linked to inherited genes

“This report needs wide dissemination and understanding. There are several common sense conclusions. One is that not all cancers can be prevented, so searching for cancer proactively is warranted. Some of the searches involve blood tests that are usually negative, leading some to conclude they aren’t necessary as a part of prevention. Another conclusion is to know your family cancer history, first and second generation, including aunts, uncles and cousins. Tell you providers that you have this family history and want to be carefully managed. Know the list of common inheritable cancers listed here.” Bill Chesnut, MD

 Nearly one-third of all cancer cases may be linked to inherited genes, research finds

On its website, NBC News (1/6, Fox) reports that research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that approximately one-third “of all cancer cases can be blamed on inherited genes.”

STAT (1/6, Swetlitz) reports that investigators looked at data on “identical and fraternal twins in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, who were part of the Nordic Twin Study of Cancer.”

Newsweek (1/6, Firger) reports that the researchers found that “overall heritability for cancer was 33 percent among the entire study population, and notably higher for certain types of cancers.” Newsweek adds, “Significant heritability was found in 58 percent of diagnosed skin melanomas, 57 percent of prostate cancers, 43 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers, 39 percent of ovarian cancers, 38 percent of kidney cancers, 31 percent of breast cancers and 27 percent of uterine cancers.”

HealthDay (1/6, Thompson) reports that the researchers also “identified a set of cancers in which genetics play a very small role.” This group includes “lung cancer (18 percent), colon cancer (15 percent), rectal cancer (14 percent), and head and neck cancer (9 percent).”

JAMA Newsletter 1.7.16.