18 Feb 2018 – 13:05

Family history increases breast cancer risk even for older women

Image used for representation.


Washington: Women are more likely to develop breast cancer when a mother or sister had this disease, and the risk associated with family history doesn’t appear to diminish with age, a US study suggests.

Family history has long been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in younger women, who are generally advised to start getting screening mammograms when theyre ten years younger than the age their relative was at diagnosis.

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But family history has been thought to be less of a factor for the elderly, and women often stop routine screenings by their 70s.

“Older women with family history have an approximately two-fold higher risk of breast cancer compared to women with no family history,” said lead study author Dejana Braithwaite of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

“As we go from age-based to risk-based screening recommendations, our findings show that older women with family history may benefit from continued mammography screening, even after age 74,” Braithwaite said.

Researchers examined data on 403,268 women age 65 or older, including 10,929 who developed breast cancer during an average follow-up period of 6.3 years.

When women ages 65 to 74 had a family history, they were 48% more likely to develop breast cancer, the study found. For women 75 or older with a family history, the increased risk was 44%.