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Changes in family history of cancer can impact screening recommendations
Date:7/12/2011

immediate colonoscopy that should be repeated every 5 years. Women with a family history of breast cancer may need to add breast MRIs to their routine mammograms.

Sufficient data to determine risk of those three tumors were available for more than 11,000 CGN participants. Examining both the retrospective and prospective information reported by participants revealed that, between ages 30 and 50, the percentage of participants whose risk of colorectal cancer increased enough to affect screening recommendations more than tripled. Similarly the percentage of women in that age group with a change in breast cancer risk that would call for breast MRI increased almost 60 percent. A smaller but still significant increase in prostate cancer risk was seen in men aged 30 to 50.

The investigators note that, in addition to taking comprehensive family histories of new patients, primary care physicians or other health care providers should update those histories every five to ten years, particularly for patients between the ages of 30 and 50. "We hope this new information will help educate physicians to more frequently ask patients these important questions," says Sharon Plon, MD, PhD, of Baylor College of Medicine, senior author of the JAMA report. "As most health care systems are moving toward the use of electronic health records, there is tremendous potential to ensure that people at higher risk of cancer are being screened earlier and using the best methods."

Plon notes that patients can also take it upon themselves to inform their providers of significant changes. "Many patients make lists of questions for the doctor before their appointments, and we hope they add changes to their family history to those lists. Our results are relevant for all patients, since anyone may have a change that would affect their cancer screening recommendations."

Finkelstein adds, "Patients should be aware which of their close relatives have h
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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