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Why Family Studies are Important

A major goal for the Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB), in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG), Human Genetics Program (HGP), National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH) is to define the role of susceptibility genes in cancer development. This is accomplished by performing detailed evaluations of members of cancer-prone families in order to obtain the clinical and laboratory information needed to understand the causes of a particular familial cancer syndrome. Hopefully, this will permit the development of appropriate health care recommendations for the members of such cancer-prone families. Investigators within DCEG have been engaged in studies of this kind for over 30 years, and it is an approach that has proven very successful.

The Human Genetics Program has evaluated families with testicular cancer in the past, and CGB is now undertaking a major expansion of this research. We have joined the International Testicular Cancer Linkage Consortium (ITCLC) and have already contributed data from our previously studied families to this international scientific collaboration. We are also actively recruiting new families to join this project. Families may be referred by their physician, or may refer themselves. Data from all studied families will contribute to mapping and cloning the familial testicular cancer susceptibility gene on the X-chromosome, and to searching for other genes (not yet identified) which may contribute to the risk of developing testicular cancer.