Breast Cancer Screening: Paternal Genes Also Important
A new Canadian study says that too much emphasis is put on the maternal side of the family when testing for breast cancer. It suggests that the paternal genes also have a part to play in screening for both breast and ovarian cancer.
Jeanna McCuaig, a researcher at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, and colleagues used patient records to compare the number of patients referred with maternal and paternal family histories of breast or ovarian cancer.
Women with a maternal family history of cancer were five times more likely to be referred to specialists. The findings are published today in the online edition of The Lancet Oncology.
According to the authors, 5-10 percent of breast and ovarian cancer cases are due to BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Women who carry these genetic mutations face a 55 to 87 percent increased lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 20 to 44 percent increased lifetime risk of ovarian cancer.
Both men and women who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have the same 50 percent risk of passing these genetic mutations on to their children.
Many remain unaware that these women might have inherited the mutated gene from their father ... and might not routinely collect this information from their patients, McCuaig and colleagues write.
Deficits in knowledge among healthcare providers and the general population about the inheritance patterns of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations could result in missed opportunities for genetic testing and cancer prevention in individuals with a paternal family history.