Q. My grandpa died from lung cancer at age 58 and my brother at age 38. What tests can I have done for early detection, and what are my odds of having lung cancer?
There’s been considerable research into the increased risk of lung cancer faced by people who have a family history of lung cancer. In a recent meta-analysis reported in the European Journal of Cancer it was found that a family history of lung cancer in a first degree relative (parent, sibling) was associated with a 51% increase in the risk of lung cancer (controlling for smoking and other risk factors). Further it was determined that if the first degree relative is a sibling the risk is increased by 82% and if a parent the risk is increased by 25 to 37%. The risk is higher for individuals who engage in smoking tobacco, even if they are light smokers.
A review of information provided by the National Cancer Institute revealed that there is no current screening procedure available which tests for genetic variants believed to be associated with family lung cancer history.
The only currently approved screening for lung cancer is for people between the ages of 55 and 74 years who have a 30 year, 1 cigarette pack/day smoking history; which consists of getting annual low dose spiral CT scan with contrast. You might be able to have your doctor provide you with a referral for this procedure on the basis of your family history, but you might have to self-pay for it.
You may find the following information helpful :
- Schwartz. 2004. Genetic predisposition to lung cancer. CHEST. 2004;125(5_suppl):86S-89S.
- Cassidy et al. 2006. Family history and risk of lung cancer: age-at-diagnosis in cases and first-degree relatives. British Journal of Cancer (2006) 95, 1288–1290.
- Cote ML et al. 2005. Risk of lung cancer among white and black relatives of individuals with early-onset lung cancer. Journal of the Americn Medical Associaton 293(24):3036-3042.
- Chen and Kaphingst. 2010. Risk perceptions and family history of lung cancer: Differences by smoking status. Public Health Genomics. December; 14(1): 26–34.
- Genetic Variant Greatly Increases Lung Cancer Risk for Light, Nonsmokers (National Human Genome Research Institute)
Studies of interest to those with a familial history of lung cancer:
- Family Lung Cancer Study (University of Cincinnati College of Medicine)
- Lung Cancer Study – family members and those diagnosed with lung cancer may be eligible to join (LSU Health Sciences Center – New Orleans)
- Coté ML, Liu M, Bonassi S, Neri M, Schwartz AG, Christiani DC, et al. Increased risk of lung cancer in individuals with a family history of the disease: A pooled analysis from the International Lung Cancer Consortium. Eur J Cancer 2012;48(13):1957-68