We have organized the Pancreatic Cancer Genetic Epidemiology (PACGENE) Consortium to identify susceptibility genes in familial pancreatic cancer (FPC). The Consortium comprises seven data collection centers, a statistical genetics core, and a pathology/archival genotyping core. We recruit kindreds containing two or more affected blood relatives ascertained through incident pancreatic adenocarcinoma cases, physician referrals, and/or through Internet recruitment. Accrual to a database containing core clinical, demographic, lifestyle, and family history information from questionnaires is ongoing, along with biospecimen collection. To date, 13,147 patients have been screened for family history, of whom 476 (50% male) probands and 1,912 of their adult (99% unaffected) relatives have been enrolled. Of these, 379 kindreds meet criteria for FPC, having at least two first-degree relatives with pancreatic cancer. Cumulative incidence curves using available age of diagnosis (onset) among and affected relatives were compared with those for incident pancreatic cancer cases reported to 13 U.S. Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) sites from 1973 to 2000 (N = 72,700). The mean age ± SD at diagnosis among 466 PACGENE probands and 670 affected relatives was 64.1 ± 11.8 and was 65.4 ± 11.6 for the subset of 369 FPC probands and 429 relatives. Both samples were significantly younger than the mean age at diagnosis in the SEER population (70.0 ± 12.1 years; differences in curves versus SEER, P < 0.001). Age at diagnosis (excluding probands) in FPC kindreds does not decrease with increasing number of affected individuals. In our sample, younger age at diagnosis was observed whether we grouped probands by recruitment sites that predominantly recruited through high-risk referrals, or through screening all pancreatic cancer patients for family history. Linkage studies are ongoing. The PACGENE Consortium will be a valuable family-based resource that will greatly enhance genetic epidemiology research in pancreatic cancer.
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