Family history of cancer is an established risk factor for certain malignancies. Due to the family history/cancer association for these cancers, screening and early detection may be more important for people who have a family history of cancer. Therefore, more intensive screening for some cancers has been recommended for this population by multiple national guidelines. However, there are few published studies on whether the guidelines have been followed. This study examined whether women with a family history of cancer were more likely to utilize breast, colorectal, or skin cancer screenings compared to those without a family history. The data for our analyses came from women who participated in the 2000 National Health Interview Survey. The age range of the study subjects and screening frequency was determined based on the American Cancer Society recommendations on cancer screening. Colorectal cancer screening utilization was defined based on the use of at-home fecal occult blood test or endoscopic procedures. Breast cancer screening utilization was defined based on the use of mammography. Skin cancer screening was ascertained if the respondent had a full dermatologic examination by a physician. For each of the screening tests, we excluded women from the analysis who had a medical history of that particular cancer or took the tests for diagnostic purposes. Compared to women without a family history of breast cancer, women with a family history were more likely to undergo a mammogram (odds ratio (OR) =1.49; 95 % CI, 1.27-1.75). Women who had a family history of colorectal cancer were twice more likely to utilize colorectal cancer screening than women without a family history of colorectal cancer (OR= 2.08; 95 % CI, 1.67-2.59). The association of family history with colorectal and breast cancer screening was even stronger among the younger age group for which a screening test is recommended if one has a family history. The association between skin cancer screening and family history of skin cancer became significant when looking at younger women (OR= 2.20; 95 % CI, 1.32-3.67). The association between family history of cancer with colorectal and breast cancer screening examinations may be a result of more physicians' recommendations and a higher motivation and heightened awareness about cancer screening among women with a family history of cancer.
[Proc Amer Assoc Cancer Res, Volume 47, 2006]