question and answer
BREAST CANCER ON DAD'S SIDE OF THE FAMILY
December 1999
R. FINGEROTE, MD, of Windsor, ON, wonders: "Does a strong history of breast cancer on the father's side of a female patient's family warrant aggressive and early screening for breast cancer?"
Unless the father himself has breast cancer, the family on the paternal side diagnosed with breast cancer will all be second-degree relatives -- aunts, grandmothers and cousins. If one or more such relatives (from either side of the family) has had a diagnosis of breast cancer, the risk in this family would only be increased by a factor of 1.5 or so, compared to the general population. It's debatable whether this is an indication for aggressive and early screening -- I don't think so -- but such patients should be encouraged to do breast self-examination and have regular mammography. JJ
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