Sex-specific familial aggregation of cancers in Finland

Lauri J. Sipilä, Karri Seppä, Mervi Aavikko, Janne Ravantti, Sanna Heikkinen, Lauri A. Aaltonen, Janne Pitkäniemi

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Despite the fact that the effect of sex on the occurrence of cancers has been studied extensively, it remains unclear whether sex modifies familial aggregation of cancers. We explored sex-specific familial aggregation of cancers in a large population-based historical cohort study. We combined cancer and population registry data, inferring familial relationships from birth municipality-surname-sex (MNS) combinations. Our data consisted of 391,529 incident primary cancers in 377,210 individuals with 319,872 different MNS combinations. Cumulative sex-specific numbers of cancers were compared to expected cumulative incidence. Familial cancer risks were similar between the sexes in our population-wide analysis. Families with concordant cancer in both sexes exhibited similar sex-specific cancer risks. However, some families had exceptionally high sex-specific cumulative cancer incidence. We identified six families with exceptionally strong aggregation in males: three families with thyroid cancer (ratio between observed and expected incidence 184.6; 95% credible interval (95% CI) 33.1-1012.7, 173.4 (95% CI 65.4-374.3), and 161.4 (95% CI 29.6-785.7), one with stomach (ratio 14.4 (95% CI 6.9-37.2)), colon (ratio 15.5 (95% CI 5.7-56.3)) cancers and one with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (ratio 33.5 (95% CI 17.2-207.6)). Our results imply that familial aggregation of cancers shows no sex-specific preference. However, the atypical sex-specific aggregation of stomach cancer, colon cancer, thyroid cancer and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia in certain families is difficult to fully explain with present knowledge of possible causes, and could yield useful knowledge if explored further.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15126
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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