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Women with a family history of colon cancer have good survival rates when diagnosed with that cancer

Research Activities, May 2009, No. 345

A woman's likelihood of developing colorectal cancer also increases when her father, mother, or sibling develops that cancer. However, a new study finds that this increased risk for colorectal cancer does not negatively affect the woman's survival rate if she develops it.

Researchers tracked 1,391 women who were diagnosed with invasive colon cancer in Wisconsin. Of the 262 women with a family history of colon cancer, 44 died of the disease. In contrast, of the 1,129 women who had no family history of the disease, 224 died. Women who had two or more relatives with colorectal cancer appeared to have a lower risk of dying from the disease compared with women who had no family history of the cancer. Thus, inherited colorectal cancer may have better survival rates than sporadic cancers, the authors suggest.

Determining a family history of colorectal cancer is seen as a cost-effective way to identify an individual who may be at risk for developing it. These findings indicate that awareness of a family history of the disease may also serve as a clinical tool after diagnosis because of the variation in survival rates between those with and without a family history of colorectal cancer. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13853).

See "Family history and colorectal cancer survival in women," by Anne C. Kirchhoff, M.P.H., Polly A. Newcomb, Ph.D., M.P.H., Amy Trentham-Dietz, Ph.D., and others in the 2008 Familial Cancer 7(4), pp. 287-292.

Current as of May 2009
Internet Citation: Women with a family history of colon cancer have good survival rates when diagnosed with that cancer: Research Activities, May 2009, No. 345. May 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/may09/0509RA9.html