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The Comprehensiveness of Family Cancer History Assessments in Primary Care

Murff H.J.a, c · Greevy R.A.b · Syngal S.d, e
aDivision of General Internal Medicine, bDepartment of Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, cDepartment of Veterans Affairs, Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, GRECC, Nashville, Tenn., dDivision of Gastroenterology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and ePopulation Sciences Division, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Mass., USA Community Genet 2007;10:174–180 (DOI:10.1159/000101759)


Background: Accurate family history information is required for adequate breast and colorectal cancer risk assessments. Few studies have examined the comprehensiveness of the family medical history interview in primary care. Methods: We compared family cancer history information collected through a self-completed survey with that documented within medical charts for 310 patients. Results: Forty-three percent (18/42) of individuals at increased risk for breast or colorectal cancer based on their family history had documentation of this risk within their chart. Age of cancer diagnosis was recorded for 40% (50/124) of affected relatives identified by chart review compared with 81% (203/252) identified through the survey (p < 0.0001). Conclusions: Over half of the individuals at increased risk for breast or colorectal cancer based on their family history did not have documentation of this risk within their medical record, and the age of relatives at diagnosis was frequently missing.


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