Family history 'improves' colorectal cancer survival

Survival odds from advanced colorectal cancer are better if you have a family history of the disease, US research suggests.

The findings come from a study of 1,087 patients with stage 3 colon cancer receiving chemotherapy, almost 18 per cent of who had one or more first-degree relatives who had suffered from the disease.

Over a median follow-up of five years and seven months, 29 per cent of those with a family history of colorectal cancer died or suffered from cancer recurrence, compared with 38 per cent of those without.

Separating the two risk factors out, the researchers found that having a family history of colorectal cancer reduced the risk of cancer recurrence by 26 per cent and death by 25 per cent.

Further analysis showed that the more relatives with colorectal cancer a patient had, the stronger the benefit. For example, those with two or more affected relatives had a 51 per cent lower risk of cancer recurrence or death than those without a family history.

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