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Women Under-Report Breast Cancer on Their Paternal Side

Discrepancy suggests that self-reported family histories of the disease may be incomplete

MONDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Women may be more likely to report a family history of breast cancer on their maternal side than on their paternal side, suggesting that self-reported family history of the disease may be suboptimal, according to a report published in the September issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

John M. Quillin, Ph.D., of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 899 breast cancer-free women aged 40 and older between April 2003 and March 2005.

The researchers found that 16 percent of the women reported a history of breast cancer on their maternal side compared with 10 percent who reported such a history on their paternal side (McNemar odds ratio, 1.71). The investigators also found that the discrepancy persisted after adjusting for ethnicity, risk perception, cancer awareness and communication among family members.

"Disease prevention scientists need to be mindful of this discrepancy when using reported family history to design and implement breast cancer health interventions," the authors write. "Primary care physicians might pay particular attention to getting information about the father's side of the family since patients may not know that paternal family history is also relevant for their health. Future investigations may elucidate the causes of this discrepancy and potential modifiers."

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