Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

First-Degree Family History and Breast Cancer Risk in Women Older Than Age 65

By: Sara Tewksbury
Posted: Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Women aged 65 and older have an increased risk of breast cancer if they have a first-degree family history of breast cancer, regardless of the age of the family member diagnosed. A prospective cohort study, led by Dejana Braithwaite, PhD, of Georgetown University School of Medicine, looked at data on 403,268 women from Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium registries from 7 different states. The registries were located in New Hampshire, North Carolina, San Francisco Bay area, western Washington State, New Mexico, Colorado, and Vermont. The results were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Dr. Braithwaite and colleagues focused on the participant’s family history, age of the family member diagnosed, and the breast tissue density as different risk factors. They found that a first-degree family history was associated with an absolute increase in the 5-year risk of breast cancer (ranging from 1.2% to 10.3%, depending on breast density status and age). In women between the ages of 65 and 74, the risk linked to first-degree family history was highest in women with fatty breasts; as for women 75 years and older, the risk linked to family history was highest in women with dense breasts.

“Family history of breast cancer does not decline as a breast cancer risk factor as a woman ages,” stated Dr. Braithwaite in a Georgetown University press release. “This means that women with that first-degree family history...should consider this risk factor when deciding whether to continue mammography screening as they age.”


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