Prevalence of family history of breast, colorectal, prostate, and lung cancer in a population-based study

Public Health Genomics. 2010;13(7-8):495-503. doi: 10.1159/000294469. Epub 2010 Apr 9.


Background: A positive family history is a known risk factor for several cancers; thus, obtaining a thorough family cancer history is essential in cancer risk evaluation and prevention management.

Methods: The Family Health Study, a telephone survey in Connecticut, was conducted in 2001. A total of 1,019 participants with demographic information and family cancer history were included in this study. Prevalence of a positive family history of breast, colorectal, prostate, and lung cancer for first- and second-degree relatives was estimated. Logistic regression was used to compare prevalence by demographic factors.

Results: A positive family history among first-degree relatives was reported by 10.9% (95% Confidence Interval, CI = 8.8-13.3) of respondents for breast cancer, 5.1% (95% CI = 3.9-6.7) for colorectal cancer, 7.0% (95% CI = 5.2-9.4) for prostate cancer, and 6.4% (95% CI = 4.9-8.3) for lung cancer. The reported prevalence of family history of specific cancers varied by sex, age and race/ethnicity of the respondents.

Conclusion: Family history prevalence for 4 of the most common adult solid tumors is substantial and the reported prevalence varied by respondent characteristics. Additional studies are needed to evaluate tools to promote accurate reporting of family history of cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology