Family History Unlikely to Predict Breast Cancer Risk in Women

by VR Sreeraman on Jul 23 2008 6:55 PM

Refuting claims of previous studies, researchers from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands have revealed that family history cannot be taken as a strong predictor of breast cancer risk in women.

With the claims, the demand for referring healthy women with a family history of breast cancer for intensive screening or genetic testing has risen.

Lead researcher Geertruida H. de Bock studied whether increased risk was significant enough to accurately predict breast cancer.

"Due to the low prevalence of early breast cancer in the population, the predictive value of a family history of breast cancer was 13% before the age of 70, 11% before the age of 50, and 1% before the age of 30," said the authors.

“These numbers are much lower than most women would probably expect.

"Applying family history related criteria results in the screening of many women who will not develop breast cancer at an early age," they added.

The researchers recommend that these results can be used to "reassure a large number of women regarding their personal breast cancer risk."

The study appears in the open access journal BMC Cancer.