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?

A.

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 :

Studies of interest to those with a familial history of lung cancer: