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Alert Number 305

Familial CLL

Date: November 7, 2008

One of the most read articles on our website is titled "Not The Worst Day of Your Life" dealing with the subject of familial CLL.  The day you were diagnosed with CLL pales into insignificance when compared to the day (if / hopefully never) your beloved kids or grandkids are diagnosed with this awful disease.

I would like to bring to your attention the latest results published on this scary subject.  The data analysis comes from a well known expert center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.  Starting in 2004, CLL, NHL and Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) patients were asked to fill out a family history questionnaire.  1,948 patients were evaluated.  A whopping 55.4% of the patients reported a first degree relative with a cancer of some sort. When the researchers looked at the parents of their patient cohort, CLL patients had higher percentage of parents with a variety of cancers.  (This analysis hit close to home for me.  PC’s father had colon cancer and died of it at a very young age).  It seems there is an inherited predisposition to CLL that can arise out of many different types of solid cancers in the parents.

The abstract of this study is attached below.  But if you want to read the full text and get all the details, write to us.

Be well,


Br J Haematol. 2008 Nov;143(3):361-8.

Prevalence of familial malignancy in a prospectively screened cohort of patients with lymphoproliferative disorders.

Brown JR, Neuberg D, Phillips K, Reynolds H, Silverstein J, Clark JC, Ash M, Thompson C, Fisher DC, Jacobsen E, LaCasce AS, Freedman AS.

Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Increasing evidence points to a heritable contribution in the development of lymphoma. The goal of this study was to determine the rate of familial lymphoproliferative malignancy among consecutive lymphoma patients presenting to a tertiary care center and to enroll families with multiple affected first-degree relatives on a data and tissue collection study. Beginning in 2004 all new patients presenting to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute with non-Hodgkin (NHL) or Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) or chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) were asked to complete a one-page self-administered family history questionnaire. 55.4% of 1948 evaluable patients reported a first-degree relative with a malignancy, with the highest rate among CLL probands (patients). Lymphoid malignancies were particularly common, with 9.4% of all probands reporting a first-degree relative with a related lymphoproliferative disorder (LPD). This frequency was again highest for CLL, at 13.3% of CLL probands, compared to 8.8% of NHL probands and 5.9% of HL probands (P = 0.002). The prevalence of CLL was significantly increased in parents of CLL probands (P < 0.05), and a greater risk of NHL was seen in fathers of NHL probands than in mothers (P = 0.026). We conclude that familial aggregation of LPDs is common among newly diagnosed patients, varies significantly by diagnosis and contributes meaningfully to the population disease burden.

PMID: 18729853 [PubMed - in process]


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