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Familial breast cancer: management of 'lower risk' referrals

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D Young, L McLeish, F Sullivan, M Pitkethly, M Reis, D Goudie, H Vysny, Gozde Ozakinci, Michael Steel

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Up to 40% of referrals from primary care to 'breast cancer family clinics' prove to be of women whose assessed risk falls below the guidelines' threshold for management in secondary or tertiary care, despite recommendations that they should be screened out at primary care level. A randomised trial, involving 87 such women referred to the Tayside Familial Breast Cancer Service compared two ways of communicating risk information, letter or personal interview. Both were found to be acceptable to referred women and to their family doctors, although the former expressed a slight preference for interview. Only four women returned to their family doctors with continuing concerns about breast cancer. Nevertheless, understanding of information provided by either route was unsatisfactory, with apparent confusion about both absolute and relative risks of breast cancer. Substantial minorities appear to believe that they are at no increased risk at all, or even below the population level of risk, while others remain convinced that their personal risk has been underestimated. Family history record forms, completed by the referred women, preferably with the assistance of relatives, are crucial to full assessment of familial risk but one quarter of women referred to the Tayside Familial Breast Cancer Service currently do not complete and return these forms ahead of their clinic appointment. Further collaboration between primary care and the Breast Cancer Family Service is required to improve provision for concerned women whose risks fall below the threshold for special surveillance and to maximise effective use of the family history record form.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)974-978
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2006

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