A family history of certain cancers is associated with an increased risk of developing cancer.
The decision to refer a patient for cancer screening and genetic services is often based on self-reported pedigree information.
Dr Harvey Murff, Dr David Spigel and Dr Sapna Syngal in America undertook a study to determine the accuracy of self-reported family cancer history information.
The researchers identified data sources by searching MEDLINE (1966-June 2004) using Medical Subject Headings family, genetic predisposition to disease, medical history taking, neoplasm, and reproducibility of results.
|Patient-reported family cancer histories for first-degree relatives are accurate and valuable for breast and colon cancer risk assessments|
|Journal of American Medical Association|
Additional articles were identified through bibliography searches.
The group included original studies in which investigators validated self-reported family history by reviewing the identified relatives' medical records, death certificate, or cancer registry information, as well as studies that evaluated breast, colon, ovarian, endometrial, and prostate cancers.
2 of the 3 investigators reviewed and abstracted data for estimating the likelihood ratios (LRs) of self-reported family cancer history information.
Only data from studies that evaluated both positive and negative family cancer histories were included within the analyses.
The researchers found 14 studies which met the search criteria, and were subsequently included in the review.
For those patients without a personal history of cancer, the group found that the positive and negative LRs of a family history of the following cancers in a first-degree relative were 23.0 and 0.25 for colon cancer; 8.9 and 0.20 for breast cancer; 14.0 and 0.68 for endometrial cancer; 34.0 and 0.51 for ovarian cancer; and 12.3 and 0.32 for prostate cancer, respectively.
The researchers found that positive predictive values tended to be better in articles concerning first-degree relatives compared with second-degree relatives.
The group concluded that patient-reported family cancer histories for first-degree relatives are accurate and valuable for breast and colon cancer risk assessments.
However, negative family history reports for ovarian and endometrial cancers are less useful, although the prevalence of these malignancies within families is low.