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Review: breast cancer is associated with a family history of the disease in first degree relatives

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 QUESTION: In women with a family history of breast cancer, how does the pattern of breast cancer in first degree relatives affect the risk for developing the disease?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching computerised literature databases, reviewing bibliographies of review articles, and contacting experts in the field.

Study selection

Selected studies were cohort or nested case control studies that included ≥ 100 women with incident invasive breast cancer, and information about reproductive or hormonal factors was sought on each woman.

Data extraction

Principal investigators of the included studies were contacted for data on each woman regarding whether any of her first degree female relatives (mother, sisters, or daughters) had been diagnosed with breast cancer and, if so, their age when the diagnosis was made. Data were also collected on the numbers of sisters and daughters of each woman and the ages of each unaffected first degree female relative.

Main results

52 published and 2 unpublished studies included 58 209 …

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  • Sources of funding: Imperial Cancer Research Fund and UNDP/UNFPA/ WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction.

  • For correspondence: ICRF Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, UK. Fax +44 (0)1865 310545.A modified version of this abstract also appears in Evidence-Based Nursing.