Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Patient reports of relatives' cancer history often not accurate

Date:
May 15, 2011
Source:
Journal of the National Cancer Institute
Summary:
Doctors often rely on a patient's knowledge of family medical history to estimate his or her risk of cancer. However, patient reports of family cancer history are not highly accurate, according to a new study.

Doctors often rely on a patient's knowledge of family medical history to estimate his or her risk of cancer. However, patient reports of family cancer history are not highly accurate, according to a study appearing May 11th online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Primary care physicians routinely ask about family history and may base their recommendations -- for screening or referrals to specialists, for instance -- on the results. But it is not clear how many people in the general population have accurate information on their relatives' cancer history.

To explore this issue, Phuong L. Mai, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues examined the accuracy of patient reports of family cancer history in the Connecticut Family Health Study. The study included a survey in which a representative sample of Connecticut residents were asked about cancer diagnoses in first- and second-degree relatives. A total of 1019 respondents provided information on cancer history for 20,578 relatives. The researchers then tried to confirm cancer history for four of the most common adult malignancies -- breast, colorectal, prostate, and lung cancer -- for 2,605 randomly-selected relatives.

Confirmation was obtained through state cancer registries, Medicare, death certificates, other health records and databases, and interviews directly with the relatives or their proxies.

The accuracy of reported cancer diagnoses in relatives was low to moderate and varied by type of cancer: 61.1 percent for breast cancer; 27.3 percent for colorectal cancer; 32 percent for prostate cancer; and 60.2 percent or lung cancer. In contrast, reports on relatives with no cancer were highly accurate. Reports for first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, and children) were more accurate than for second-degree relatives (grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews).

The authors conclude that efforts are needed to improve the accuracy of family cancer history reporting. "Given that the population from which we sampled is similar to primary care populations, the results of this study suggest that family cancer history collected in the primary care setting might be useful as an initial screening tool, and, if positive, confirmation of the reported cancers is needed for the purpose of making cancer screening recommendations or referral to a specialty clinic."

In a related editorial, Rachel A. Freedman, M.D., and Judy E. Garber, M.D., of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston say that the study highlights the limitations of relying on patient reports of family cancer histories for risk assessment. They add that the current debate on electronic medical records and patient privacy should include this issue. And they note that on-line family history tools, such as the Surgeon General's pedigree tool, genealogy websites, and Facebook pages may contribute to more accurate reporting.

"However," they write, "if we want to be able to appropriately integrate family history into personalized clinical care, studying systematic ways to enhance family history ascertainment should be a research priority."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Phuong L. Mai, Anne O. Garceau, Barry I. Graubard, Marsha Dunn, Timothy S. Mcneel, Lou Gonsalves, Mitchell H. Gail, Mark H. Greene, Gordon B. Willis, Louise Wideroff. Confirmation of Family Cancer History Reported in a Population-Based Survey. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2011; DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djr114
  2. Rachel A. Freedman, Judy E. Garber. Family Cancer History: Healthy Skepticism Required. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2011; DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djr142

Cite This Page:

Journal of the National Cancer Institute. "Patient reports of relatives' cancer history often not accurate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110511162524.htm>.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute. (2011, May 15). Patient reports of relatives' cancer history often not accurate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110511162524.htm
Journal of the National Cancer Institute. "Patient reports of relatives' cancer history often not accurate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110511162524.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins