Women, who are considered to have a breast or ovarian cancer risk often miss diagnosing it early enough. This could well be for the fact that the family history on the father’s side is often not taken into account.
Researchers associated with Lancet Oncology say that the women are more likely to refer to the disease on their mother’s side of the family. Consequently, the incidences of women having maternal histories of cancer are referred almost five times more than others by their family doctors.
A charity associated with cancer in the UK also stated that the history of the father is often overlooked especially when it is a case of breast or ovarian cancer. Studies have revealed that almost 5% to 10% of such cancers are usually associated with genetic inheritance. A significant amount of the genetic risk manifests itself as a BRCA1 or BRCA2 defect. This is associated with the possibility of the concerned woman being diagnosed by breast or ovarian cancer in her life time.
A woman having a family history of cancer is therefore at a risk and can take the necessary precaution by being referred for genetic testing in order to find out whether she has the defect.
Jeanna McCuaig, the leader of the research team and attached to the Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto found out that in spite of the chances of inheriting a defective gene from the father and mother being 50-50, the maternal history is the only one taken into consideration most of the time. A study of records from their own clinic showed the disparity in referral rates.
The reason for overlooking the paternal history might be due to ignorance feel the researchers. McCuaig stated knowing of two prominent cases where the women concerned were falsely reassured despite having a history of BRCA2 gene mutation and incidences of breast/ovarian cancer in their paternal families.
Dr Caitlin Palframan said that it was important to understand the importance of paternal family history of cancers as the faulty genes can be inherited from either side of the family.