Multiple primaries in pancreatic cancer patients: Indicator of a genetic predisposition?

Berthold Gerdes*, Andreas Ziegler, Annette Ramaswamy, Anja Wild, Peter Langer, Detlef K. Bartsch

*Corresponding author for this work
15 Citations (Scopus)


Background. The genetic basis of several familial cancers including breast and colon cancers has been identified recently. The occurrence of multiple cancers in one individual is also suggestive of a genetic predisposition. To evaluate inherited predisposition in pancreatic cancer we compared the clinical data of pancreatic cancer patients with and without multiple primaries as well as the frequency of malignancies among their relatives. Methods. Detailed data on 69 pancreatic cancer patients included survival time and TNM-classification. Index case data were separated into two groups. The first group (group 1) developed only pancreatic cancer during their lifetime, whereas the second group (group 2) developed additional primary tumours. A systematic family history was taken from 59 of these pancreatic cancer patients using a standardized questionnaire. The pancreatic cancers and the multiple primaries of the 59 patients were histologically proven. Results. Of the 69 pancreatic cancer patients, 13 (18.8%) had multiple primaries. Neither the clinical data nor the survival data of the index cases revealed differences between the two groups (all nominal P-values >0.05). In the family history study blood relatives developed a malignancy in 51% (24 of 47) of the families in group 1 compared to 75% (9 of 12) in group 2. The risk of relatives in group 2 of developing a malignant tumour was significantly higher (P = 0.034) than in group 1 after adjustments for family size and age of disease onset of the index case. The cancer spectrum of the 59 families mainly included tumours of the digestive tract and the reproductive organs. Conclusions. A multiple primary cancer history is a common condition among pancreatic cancer patients. Relatives of these patients seem to have an increased risk for the development of distinct malignant solid tumours, which might be caused by an inherited predisposition. Clinical and genetic investigation of pancreatic cancer patients with multiple primaries and their families might lead to the identification of predisposing gene defects providing a new goal for the understanding of a shared genetic basis of different solid tumours.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)999-1003
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2000


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiple primaries in pancreatic cancer patients: Indicator of a genetic predisposition?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this