Study Confirms Value of Family-History Knowledge for
Young Women with Breast Cancer
Behind the Cancer Headlines®
April 1, 2003
A UK study published as a research
letter in The Lancet highlights the importance of detailed family-history
knowledge to help identify women with pathogenic gene mutations for breast
Women who carry mutations of BRCA1
and/or BRCA2 genes have a much higher lifetime risk of breast cancer—up to
80%—with non-carriers. A family history of breast cancer can be an indication
of BRCA1/BRCA2 status.
Fiona Lalloo from St. Marys Hospital,
Manchester, UK, and colleagues assessed BRCA1/BRCA2 status and detailed family
history for young women (aged 30 years or younger) in northwest England.
Approximately one-third of women
assessed (36 of 99) had a strong family history of breast cancer and/or ovarian
cancer, although this was not reported in hospital notes for more than half of
these cases. 44% of women with a family history had mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2
compared with only 6% of women without a family history of breast cancer.
Fiona Lalloo comments: "Our
findings underline the importance of accurate elucidation of a family history
from young women diagnosed with breast cancer for the prediction of mutations in
genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. We recommend that all breast cancer surgical
notes include a section on family history, which has to be completed.
Elucidation of family history will aid identification of women with pathogenic
gene mutations who need altered initial management and prospective tumor
surveillance of both the breast and the ovaries."
March 29, 2003