Doctors say genetic factors have caused several generations of a family in the northwestern China province of Shaanxi to suffer from cancer.
The family of Li Kuanchang in Shenmu County aroused the attention of medical experts earlier this year with eight cancer patients among three generations, five of whom died.
"Some of them suffer from leukemia and others from malignant tumors in the bone, stomach, liver, breast and colon," said Li Qiang, a physician from Xijing Hospital based in the provincial capital Xi'an.
Li is a member of an experts' panel sent to Shenmu County in late November to investigate the family and probe the causes for their diseases.
"We have found 10 more cases in their closest relations, including two of Li Kuanchang's sisters," said Li.
According to Li, incidence of cancer within the Li family had reached 41.8 percent -- with 18 patients among 43 people. "We can confirm it's a hereditary problem," he said.
The doctor and his colleagues are carrying out further research to identify the reason for the family's genetic predilection in order to protect future generations from the same problem.
The experts had requested Xijing Hospital to set up a special group to track the family, said Gao Tianwen, a dermatologist with the panel.
(Xinhua News Agency December 19, 2003)