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The risk of many cancers is higher in subjects with a family history (FH) of cancer at a concordant site. However, few studies investigated FH of cancer at discordant sites.This study is based on a network of Italian and Swiss case–control studies on 13 cancer sites conducted between 1991 and 2009, and including more than 12 000 cases and 11 000 controls. We collected information on history of any cancer in first degree relatives, and age at diagnosis. Odds ratios (ORs) for FH were calculated by multiple logistic regression models, adjusted for major confounding factors.All sites showed an excess risk in relation to FH of cancer at the same site. Increased risks were also found for oral and pharyngeal cancer and FH of laryngeal cancer (OR = 3.3), esophageal cancer and FH of oral and pharyngeal cancer (OR = 4.1), breast cancer and FH of colorectal cancer (OR = 1.5) and of hemolymphopoietic cancers (OR = 1.7), ovarian cancer and FH of breast cancer (OR = 2.3), and prostate cancer and FH of bladder cancer (OR = 3.4). For most cancer sites, the association with FH was stronger when the proband was affected at age <60 years.Our results point to several potential cancer syndromes that appear among close relatives and may indicate the presence of genetic factors influencing multiple cancer sites.