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February 1990

The Family History and Cancer Control: Hereditary Breast Cancer

Author Affiliations

Omaha, Neb

Arch Surg. 1990;125(2):151-152. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1990.01410140025004

The most sorely neglected portion of a patient's medical evaluation pertains to the family history of cancer of any type, including breast cancer. This is paradoxical—no one is at greater risk for breast cancer than a woman whose mother or sister had breast cancer (or another integrally associated hereditary syndrome cancer) and who is in the direct genetic lineage of a relative with hereditary breast cancer (HBC). The lifetime breast cancer risk for such a patient is 50%! Recognition of HBC, particularly when targeted surveillance/management programs are enforced for such high-risk patients, could be one of the most powerful and potentially cost-effective models for cancer control. Research on patients with HBC holds promise for the elucidation of etiology, biomolecular markers of the cancer-susceptible genotype, and carcinogenesis. However, success in all of these ventures will necessarily be contingent on the meticulous compilation of the family history.

This commentary on HBC in