The pathogenetic mechanisms behind gastric cancer are still unclear. Its familial aggregation, on the other hand, has been very well documented by many epidemiologists. Nonetheless, only a limited number of studies have analyzed possible correlations between demographic and clinical data.
Between January 1988 and August 2004, 541 patients underwent gastric resection with a curative intent at our department; demographic information, laboratory data, imaging, operative notes, and pathology reports were available for all patients. During 2004 we conducted a series of structured interviews with the surviving patients or their closest relatives regarding oncological family history, limited to first-degree relatives.
Family history could be obtained in 383 patients (70.8%). Gastric cancer was by far the most frequently associated tumor: 21.9% of the overall number of tumors reported in the family histories were gastric cancers. Patients were also subdivided into those having at least one other family member with stomach cancer (71 patients; 18.5%) and those with no relatives affected by gastric cancer (312 patients; 81.5%). No statistically significant differences between the groups were observed regarding the primary tumor location, size, pTNM classification, and ABO or Rh blood types. However, the intestinal histotype was significantly (P = 0.015) more frequently represented in individuals with at least one family member affected by gastric cancer compared with those with no relatives with stomach cancer (71.8% vs 55.1%, respectively).
Stomach cancer has a relevant degree of familial aggregation and in our series of patients, this was even more pronounced for the intestinal histotype.