Limitations of the Gail model in the specialized breast cancer risk assessment clinic

Breast J. Jan-Feb 2002;8(1):23-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1524-4741.2002.08005.x.


The Gail model is a risk assessment tool that is accurate for general breast cancer risk screening. Because of the limited way that this model incorporates family history information, however, there are concerns that it may underestimate risk for many women attending specialized breast cancer risk assessment clinics. We collected comprehensive breast cancer risk factor information for 213 women attending a specialized breast cancer risk assessment clinic using a modified version of the CancerGene software. Breast cancer risk was calculated using the models of Gail and Claus as well as BRCAPRO and the tables of Bodian (for women with lobular neoplasia). Eighty-six percent of the women had a family history of breast cancer. Although 74% of women had risk factor histories that are thought to confound the Gail model (family history of breast cancer in second-degree relatives, family history of breast cancer before the age of 50, family history of bilateral breast cancer, family history of ovarian cancer, or personal history of lobular neoplasia), the inclusion of other models increased the risk level assignment in only 13% of the cases. We conclude that the Gail model is an appropriate risk assessment tool for most women attending specialized clinics, although the inclusion of models better able to account for family history information and personal history of lobular neoplasia is required to accommodate all women.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Texas / epidemiology