Breast Cancer Survival May Run in Families

Daughters of women who succumb to the disease have heightened risk of dying if they develop it, Swedish study finds.

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THURSDAY, June 28, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Women can look to their mothers and sisters to help determine their chances of survival from breast cancer, new research suggests.

This Swedish study, published in the online issue of Breast Cancer Research, found that if a woman succumbs to breast cancer, her daughters or sisters have a 60 percent increased risk of dying from the disease if they develop it.

Led by Mikael Hartman from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. a team of researchers used Sweden's Multi-Generation Register to identify 2,787 mother-daughter pairs and 831 sister pairs of women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1961 and 2001.

The researchers found that daughters of mothers who survived breast cancer after five years had a 91 percent chance of surviving the disease, compared with an 87 percent chance for daughters of mothers who died within five years.

The same went for sisters. Having a sister who died of breast cancer within five years gave a 70 percent chance of survival, compared with an 88 percent chance of survival for those who had a sister who survived for five years.

Overall, the daughters and the sisters of a woman who died within five years were 60 percent to 70 percent more likely of dying from the disease within five years if they developed it.

These findings are "relevant to women with newly diagnosed breast cancer" and to those treating them, Hartman said in a prepared statement.

Future research is needed to determine what inherited factors may play a role in survival.

More information

The National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer.

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, June 28, 2007

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