STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim was to assess the relative importance of genetic factors in carcinoma of the stomach, colon, rectum, prostate, and bladder in Scottish males. DESIGN--Cancer cases and controls were compared in terms of the coefficient of relationship by isonymy (Ri). SETTING--Surname distributions for cancer cases were derived from the Scottish Cancer Register for the years 1959-85. Control distributions were derived from all births, marriages and deaths in Scotland for 1976. SUBJECTS--Analysis was carried out on a total of 60,933 cancer registrations and 101,836 births, marriages, and deaths over the 12 local government regions of Scotland. MAIN RESULTS--Comparisons of Ri within and between regions indicated that inherited susceptibility was of greatest importance in carcinoma of the prostate and colon, of intermediate importance in carcinoma of the rectum and stomach, and of minimal importance in carcinoma of the bladder. Familial aggregation of cancers was most pronounced in Highland, Tayside, and Borders Regions. For Highland, this appeared to be the result of region-specific familial influences, while Tayside and the Borders shared genetic factors contributing to cancer aetiology with neighbouring regions in south east Scotland. CONCLUSIONS--Surname analysis is a simple but useful tool for studying population genetic structure and its relationship to disease incidence.
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