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Computerized System Tracks Family History of Cancer

Genetic Risk Easy Assessment Tool compares favorably with data collected by genetic counselor

FRIDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- A computerized questionnaire delivered via phone is a reliable and accurate way of recording a patient's family history of cancer, researchers report in the Dec. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Louise S. Acheson, M.D., of Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland in Ohio, and colleagues compared 120 family cancer histories collected with the Genetic Risk Easy Assessment Tool (GREAT), which is a computer-administered questionnaire, with 120 histories compiled by genetic counselors.

The survey participants were very receptive to the automated telephone interview, which took a mean of 33.5 minutes. Both methods identified 63 percent of all cancers, with 90 percent accord on cancer types. In a comparison, 38 percent of third-degree relatives, 67 percent of second-degree relatives, and 94 percent of first-degree relatives were identical in the two methods.

The researchers found 0.77 correlation between breast cancer risk assessment by geneticists relying on either method. The computerized survey had a high test-retest accuracy for cancer in first- and second-degree relatives.

More study is needed "about the effects of using informatics to make familial cancer risk assessment more available," the authors write. "The GREAT may be efficient in primary care to focus families on risk-appropriate cancer screening and primary prevention efforts."

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