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Background: A number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which are common inherited genetic variants, have been identified that are associated with risk of colorectal cancer. The aim of this study was to determine the ability of these SNPs to estimate colorectal cancer (CRC) risk for persons with and without a family history of CRC, and the screening implications. Methods: We estimated the association with CRC of a 45 SNP-based risk using 1,181 cases and 999 controls, and its correlation (r) with CRC risk predicted from detailed family history. We estimated the predicted change in the distribution across predefined risk categories, and implications for recommended age to commence screening, from adding SNP-based risk to family history. Results: The inter-quintile risk ratio for colorectal cancer risk of the SNP-based risk was 2.46 (95% CI 1.91 - 3.11). SNP-based and family history-based risks were not correlated (r = 0.02). For persons with no first-degree relatives with CRC, recommended screening would commence 2 years earlier for women (4 years for men) in the highest quintile of SNP-based risk, and 12 years later for women (7 years for men) in the lowest quintile. For persons with two first-degree relatives with CRC, recommended screening would commence 15 years earlier for men and women in the highest quintile, and 8 years earlier for men and women in the lowest quintile. Conclusions: Risk reclassification by 45 SNPs could inform targeted screening for CRC prevention, particularly in clinical genetics settings when mutations in high-risk genes cannot be identified.

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