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Prevalence of Family History of Breast and Ovarian Cancer in a Single Primary Care Practice Using a Self-Administered Questionnaire

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Women at high risk of hereditary breast and/or ovarian cancer require specific management strategies for cancer prevention and early detection. The goal of this study was to determine the prevalence of familial breast and ovarian cancer among patients in a primary care practice. Questionnaires were mailed to the 608 women less than 81 years of age in a single primary care practice. Additional mailings and phone calls were used for nonresponders. Data were analyzed by bloodline, the degree of relative, age of diagnosis and cancer type. Women were grouped into three categories of breast/ovarian family history: “no family history,”“insignificant family history,” and “significant potentially high-risk family history” (women with two or more relatives in a single bloodline with breast and/or ovarian cancer, a single individual with bilateral breast cancer or breast and ovarian cancer, or breast and/or ovarian cancer at less than 40 years of age). A pedigree analysis of women categorized as “significant potentially high-risk family history” further classified these women as to the likelihood of being at risk for hereditary cancer. Data were obtained from 567 women (93%); 27 patients with a personal diagnosis of breast and/or ovarian cancer were excluded. Of the 540 remaining respondents, 351 (65%) had no family history of cancer, 138 (25.6%) had an insignificant family history, and 51 (9.4%) had a significant family history. Based on pedigree analysis of these 51 patients, 19 were unlikely to be at high risk for hereditary cancer, and 32 (6%) were likely to be at significant risk and warrant intensive evaluation. The large proportion of women identified with a significant family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer has major implications regarding the magnitude of a population-based process to identify and manage high-risk individuals. 
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Keywords: BRCA-1; BRCA-2; breast neoplasms; hereditary; neoplastic syndromes; ovarian neoplasms; risk assessment; risk factors

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and 2: Lahey Clinic, Peabody, Massachusetts

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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