(HealthDay News) — For many cancers, the familial risks of cancer are seen in offspring whose parents received a diagnosis of concordant cancer at all ages, although the highest risk is seen for those diagnosed at an early age, according to a study published online Dec. 20 in BMJ.

Elham Kharazmi, M.D., from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, and colleagues used the nationwide Swedish Family Cancer Database to examine whether familial risk of cancer is limited to early-onset cases. Data were included for more than 12.2 million Swedish individuals, including more than 1.1 million cases of first primary cancer.

The researchers found that offspring whose parents were diagnosed at an early age had the highest familial risk. Even when parents were diagnosed at 70 to 79 or 80 to 89 years, there were significantly elevated family risks for colorectal, lung, breast, prostate, and urinary bladder cancer, as well as for melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The risk of concordant cancer in offspring was still significantly increased for skin squamous cell carcinoma, colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer, even when parents were diagnosed at 90 years or older. For nearly all cancers, there was no significantly increased familial risk for offspring with a cancer diagnosed at ages 60 to 76 whose parents were affected before age 50 years.

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“Our study has shown the existence of a familial component, even in cancers of advanced ages, though the highest familial risk was seen in patients with a parent diagnosed at earlier ages,” the authors write. “The present study provides novel and useful information for clinical counseling and cancer genetics.”

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