Breast cancer incidence among women with a family history of breast cancer by relative's age at diagnosis

Cancer. 2022 Dec 15;128(24):4232-4240. doi: 10.1002/cncr.34365. Epub 2022 Oct 19.


Background: Women with a first-degree family history of breast cancer are often advised to begin screening when they are 10 years younger than the age at which their relative was diagnosed. Evidence is lacking to determine how much earlier they should begin.

Methods: Using Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium data on screening mammograms from 1996 to 2016, the authors constructed a cohort of 306,147 women 30-59 years of age with information on first-degree family history of breast cancer and relative's age at diagnosis. The authors compared cumulative 5-year breast cancer incidence among women with and without a first-degree family history of breast by relative's age at diagnosis and by screening age.

Results: Among 306,147 women included in the study, approximately 11% reported a first-degree family history of breast cancer with 3885 breast cancer cases identified. Women reporting a relative diagnosed between 40 and 49 years and undergoing screening between ages 30 and 39 or 40 and 49 had similar 5-year cumulative incidences of breast cancer (respectively, 18.6/1000; 95% confidence interval [CI], 12.1, 25.7; 18.4/1000; 95% CI, 13.7, 23.5) as women without a family history undergoing screening between 50-59 years of age (18.0/1000; 95% CI, 17.0, 19.1). For relative's diagnosis age from 35 to 45 years of age, initiating screening 5-8 years before diagnosis age resulted in a 5-year cumulative incidence of breast cancer of 15.2/1000, that of an average 50-year-old woman.

Conclusion: Women with a relative diagnosed at or before age 45 may wish to consider, in consultation with their provider, initiating screening 5-8 years earlier than their relative's diagnosis age.

Keywords: BCSC; Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium; breast cancer screening; family history of breast cancer; mammography.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mammography / methods
  • Mass Screening
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors