October 28, 2010

Your Paternal Family History Can Save Your Life

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- When you go to a new doctor and fill out your family history, beware! Seems paternal history is just as important as maternal history.

About 5% of breast and ovarian cancer cases are the result of an inherited genetic predisposition mostly caused by the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. These gene mutations increase the risk of cancers in both men and women. But despite both men and women being equally likely to pass this genetic susceptibility to their children, a father's family history is not well recognized as a risk factor. As a result, women who might have inherited the mutated gene from their father could be missing out on opportunities for genetic testing and early diagnosis.

Researchers at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Canada say that health-care providers know of the increased breast and ovarian cancer risk in women with this gene mutation, but 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.

To test this, they used patient records from their clinic in Toronto, Canada, to compare the number of patients referred with maternal and paternal family history of breast or ovarian cancer. They found that patients with a maternal family history of cancer were 5 times more likely to be referred.

"With an increased awareness by health-care providers of the potential paternal transmission of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, together with their ability to provide accurate risk assessments, fewer opportunities for cancer prevention will be missed," Jeanna McCuaig from the Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, Canada was quoted saying.

SOURCE: Lancet Oncology, October 2010