No need for gene screens in breast cancer families

July 23, 2008

Research reported today should provide relief to women who are worried after a relative's breast cancer diagnosis. The study in the open access journal BMC Cancer shows that a family history of breast cancer does not give a useful indication of the likelihood that a woman will develop it herself at an early age.

An increased risk of breast cancer for relatives of breast cancer patients has been demonstrated in many studies. As physicians and the general population have become more aware of this increased risk, the demand for referring healthy women with a family history of breast cancer for intensive screening or genetic testing has risen. Geertruida H. de Bock led a team from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands who investigated whether the increased risk was significant enough to accurately predict breast cancer.

According to de Bock, "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." These numbers are much lower than most women would probably expect. As the authors explain, "Applying family history related criteria results in the screening of many women who will not develop breast cancer at an early age."

Given the psychological harm that screening visits can cause, more stringent criteria should be applied to early screening. The researchers recommend that these results be used to "reassure a large number of women regarding their personal breast cancer risk."

Source: BioMed Central

Explore further: How a pill could improve breast cancer diagnoses

Related Stories

How a pill could improve breast cancer diagnoses

March 15, 2016

The ongoing debate about breast cancer diagnostics has left many women confused—particularly over what age they should get mammograms and who needs treatment. An issue with current methods is that they often identify lumps ...

One small step for the health of female astronauts

April 1, 2016

In recent films involving space travel, such as Interstellar, Gravity and The Martian, several female characters have been portrayed as astronauts, commanders and specialists with the capability to endure the same missions ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Shaving time to test antidotes for nerve agents

February 29, 2016

Imagine you wanted to know how much energy it took to bike up a mountain, but couldn't finish the ride to the peak yourself. So, to get the total energy required, you and a team of friends strap energy meters to your bikes ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

E_L_Earnhardt
not rated yet Jul 23, 2008
Protect the child from X-ray!!!!!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.