National Cancer Institute
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Risk Factor Monitoring & Methods
Cancer Control and Population Sciences


Why is it important to track a family history of cancer?

A family history of cancer is a potential indicator of inherited cancer susceptibility mutations and of familial behaviors and environmental exposures that are associated with increased cancer risk. Family history data have various uses in cancer risk factor surveillance, such as:

  • estimating the population prevalence of familial cancers;
  • measuring the impact of cancer on family quality of life;
  • understanding how family history of cancer influences screening behavior and clinical management of patients at varying levels of risk; and
  • helping determine allocation of public health genetics resources.

To date, the validity of family history of cancer reports collected from the general population has not been well characterized. The Family History Validation Study will provide valuable information that can be used to assess the feasibility of future surveillance research to monitor familial risk factors in the US population.

Last modified:
28 Apr 2006
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