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Cancer. 1992 Mar 15;69(6):1404-7.

Natural history and age at onset of hereditary breast cancer.

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Department of Preventive Medicine/Public Health, Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, Nebraska 67178.


Hereditary breast cancer (HBC) is noteworthy for certain unique facets of its natural history and heterogeneity. Interfamily heterogeneity in age at initial breast cancer diagnosis was investigated in 217 family members with HBC. The mean age at diagnosis was 44.9 years (standard deviation +/- 12.5 years). A one-way analysis of variance in ages at diagnosis, using the family as a random effect factor, indicated that between-family differences were significant (P less than 0.002) and accounted for approximately 18% of the variance in ages at diagnosis. A subset of families with HBC was characterized by an extraordinarily early onset of breast cancer. A knowledge of the natural history of HBC with particular attention to age at onset allows for the development of more accurately targeted surveillance, genetic counselling, and management strategies.

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