No Evidence of Familial Correlation in Breast Cancer Metastasis

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Dec;118(3):575-81. doi: 10.1007/s10549-009-0368-3. Epub 2009 Mar 19.


Animal experiments support the hypothesis that the metastatic potential of breast cancer is a heritable trait of the host. Our objective was to evaluate correlations in metastasis occurrence in large families with multiple cases of breast cancer. We evaluated correlation among pairs of relatives in the occurrence and timing of distant metastasis using retrospective cohort data from 743 female breast cancer patients in 242 families. We adjusted for correlation in their age at diagnosis, year of diagnosis, educational level, lymph node involvement, and estrogen receptor status. Distant metastasis occurred in 255 patients (34.3%) during mean followup of 11.7 years. None of the correlation coefficients for metastasis in blood relatives differed significantly from zero. The estimated correlation coefficient in first-degree relatives was -0.03 (95% confidence interval -0.11 to 0.06). These findings suggest that a family history of metastatic breast cancer does not contribute substantially to risk of metastasis for breast cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / genetics*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors