Ascertainment and anticipation in family studies

Josephine Hoh, Daniel F. Heitjan, Chantal Mérette, Jürg Ott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Many human diseases show anticipation; that is, disease occurs earlier (or with greater severity) in successive generations. In a computer simulation, we assessed the degree of anticipation that one would expect to see in two-generation breast cancer families. Under reasonable assumed distributions for age at cancer onset, number of children, and mortality, we find a consistent earlier mean age at diagnosis in daughters than in mothers, but the same mean age at diagnosis in affected aunts and nieces. We compare these results with published pedigree data for familial breast cancer that show substantial anticipation in affected daughters compared to their mothers. We find that at least some anticipation is expected in human disease families even when the disease is stable and families are ascertained without obvious sampling bias. We further demonstrate that such anticipation is reduced when comparing affected children to the parents' affected siblings. Copyright (C) 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-26
Number of pages4
JournalHuman Heredity
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Anticipation
  • Ascertainment
  • Breast cancer
  • Computer simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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