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Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2008 Jan-Mar;9(1):63-5.

Does a positive family history influence the presentation of breast cancer?

Author information

  • 1Dept of Surgery, University Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. yipch@um.edu.my

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

An important risk factor for developing breast cancer is a positive family history of breast cancer. In Malaysia, there is no population-based breast screening programme, but the clinical practice guidelines suggest increased surveillance for those with a positive family history ie mammography for those 40 years old and above, breast self-examination and clinical breast examination yearly.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine if women with a family history of breast cancer present with earlier stages of disease.

METHODOLOGY:

From Jan 2001 to Dec 2006, 1553 women with breast cancer presenting to the University Malaya, where family history was recorded, were eligible for this study. Women with a first or second degree relative with breast cancer were compared with those who have no family history with regard to their race, age, stage, size and duration of symptoms. The Chi Square test of significance was used for analysis.

RESULTS:

Out of 1553 patients, 252 (16.2%) were found to have a relative with breast cancer out of which 174 (11.2%) had at least one affected first degree relative. There were no significant difference in the incidence of positive family history between the Malays, Chinese and Indians. 20% below the age of 40 years old had a positive family history compared with 12.6% in women with no family history. (p<0.05). There was no significant difference in stage at diagnosis between those with and without family history, ie 24.2% late stages (Stage 3 and 4) in the group with no family history compared with 21.8% in the group with family history. (p>0.05). The mean size in the group with no family history was 4.4 cm compared to 4.1 cm in the group with family history. There was a significant difference in screen-detected cancers in the women with family history, 10.7% compared with 5.1% of screen-detected cancers in the group without a family history. However there was no difference in the duration of symptoms between the 2 groups--25.8% in the women without a family history presented after 1 year of symptoms compared with 22.4% in the group with a family history (p>0.05).

CONCLUSION:

Having a family history of breast cancer does not appear to have much impact on the health-seeking behavior of women. Even though there were more screen detected cancers, these comprised only 10% of the group with family history. Public education should target women at risk ie with family history to encourage these women to present earlier and to undergo screening for breast cancer.

PMID:
18439076
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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