Adequate Family History Needed to Assess Cancer Risk

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Adequate Family History Needed to Assess Cancer Risk
Adequate Family History Needed to Assess Cancer Risk

(HealthDay News) — Recommendations relating to the key elements of minimum adequate cancer family history are detailed, although they are often incompletely implemented, according to a recommendation statement and related study published online Feb. 3 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Noting that family history can affect long- and short-term cancer management, Karen H. Lu, MD, from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues made recommendations about a minimum adequate family history for patients with cancer. 

The researchers note that a minimum adequate family history should include a history of cancer in first- and second-degree relatives. For each relative with cancer, the type of primary cancer, age at diagnosis, and lineage should be recorded. Patients should be asked about known hereditary predisposition information, the results of genetic testing among relatives, and relevant information regarding ethnicity.

RELATED: Colorectal Cancer Risk Up With Family History of Adenoma

In a related study, Marie E. Wood, MD, from the University of Vermont in Burlington, and colleagues examined the quality of cancer family history (CFH) and genetic counseling/testing practices in 212 practices participating in the American Society of Clinical Oncology Quality Oncology Practice Initiative. 

The researchers found that 77.4% of all medical records reviewed documented the presence or absence of CFH in first-degree relatives and 61.5% did so in second-degree relatives, with significantly higher documentation for breast than colorectal cancer. Of patients with increased risk for hereditary cancer, 52.2% and 26.4% of those with breast and colorectal cancer, respectively, were referred for genetic counseling/testing.

RELATED: USPSTF Backs Genetic Counseling for BRCA Mutations

"Education and support regarding the importance of accurate CFH and the benefits of proactive high-risk patient management are clearly needed," Wood and colleagues wrote.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.


  1. Lu KH, et al. American Society of Clinical Oncology Expert Statement: Collection and Use of a Cancer Family History for Oncology Providers. J Clin Oncol. 2014;doi:10.1200/JCO.2013.50.9257.
  2. Wood ME, Kadlubek P, Pham TH, et al. Quality of Cancer Family History and Referral for Genetic Counseling and Testing Among Oncology Practices: A Pilot Test of Quality Measures As Part of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Quality Oncology Practice Initiative. J Clin Oncol. 2014;doi:10.1200/JCO.2013.51.4661.

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