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J Clin Epidemiol. 2007 Feb;60(2):171-5. Epub 2006 Sep 7.

Family history of cancer provided by hospital controls was satisfactorily reliable.

Author information

  • 1Laboratorio di Epidemiologia, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri", Via Eritrea 62, 20157 Milan, Italy. bravi@marionegri.it



Our aim was to investigate the reliability of the information on family history of cancer in first-degree relatives in a hospital-based case-control study.


We re-interviewed at home 294 controls of an Italian hospital-based case-control study on digestive tract neoplasms using the same questionnaire and compared the responses reported by these patients in the two settings.


A satisfactory agreement between the two interviews was reported for family history of any cancer (kappa=0.7) and of cancers of the digestive tract (kappa=0.8). The agreement was apparently higher for esophageal and stomach cancers (kappa>0.8) than for intestinal cancers (kappa=0.6) and lower for lung cancer (kappa=0.5). We found a systematic tendency to report a history of cancer more frequently in the hospital setting than in the home setting.


The present study showed a good reliability of data on family history of all cancers, including cancers of the digestive tract, provided by hospital controls through a structured interview-administered questionnaire. It suggests, moreover, that controls in the hospital setting tend to recall more often, and presumably more completely, a family history of cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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