Twins cancer study: Increased risk for same type of cancer

Twins cancer study: If one twin gets cancer, the other twin will have an increased risk of getting the same type of cancer.

By Kate Phillipa Clark

Researchers from The University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Harvard University and University of Helsinki have made an interesting discovery. They’ve found that genes play a role in the development of many types of cancers. Among fraternal twins there is a 37 percent risk that one twin will get cancer, if the other twin has had it. Among identical twins the risk is 46 percent. These findings are based on a large twin study. It’s the most comprehensive in the world ever.

Significant discoveries

The researches have studied 23 different kinds of cancer. They’ve found an increased incidence among most sets of twins.
“The study gives the closest insight ever in familial lifetime risk for different kinds of cancer. Especially the genes overall importance emerges, also for the more rare cancers. This insight has significance, when we are looking for the initiating factors, enabling us to understand the mechanisms so prevention and treatment may be developed,” says Jacob Hjelmborg. He is professor at Department of Public Health at SDU. He is also one of the authors of the study.

Twins represent us all

“It’s the closest we’ve ever come to an overall understanding of familial factors on various types of cancer,” says Jacob Hjelmborg.
The study is based on 200,000 Nordic twins.
“They uniquely represent all of us in the population. They are part of national registers and provides a basic knowledge useful for e.g. cancer research, including risk assessment and treatment,” he says.

This article has been published with permission from SDU.

About the Author

Kate Phillipa Clark

Kate Phillipa Clark has a bachelor in Journalism and an Executive Master in Corporate Communication. She is an identical twin and so is her father.

 

Leave a Reply