• breast cancer;
  • family history;
  • ovarian cancer



A family history of breast cancer has been associated with increased ovarian cancer risk. However, few studies have assessed risk according to characteristics that suggest an inherited cancer susceptibility disorder, such as earlier-than-usual age at cancer diagnosis, family members with double primary cancers of different types, multiple relatives with cancer, and cancer in both members of paired organs.


Ovarian cancer risk was assessed according to a detailed breast cancer family history among 49,975 participants in the Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project Breast Cancer Defection Demenstration Project (BCDDP) Follow-up Study (1979–1998). In all, 362 incident ovarian cancers were identified during follow-up and rate ratios (RRs) were calculated by Poisson regression.


Breast cancer in a first- or second-degree relative was associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer (RR = 1.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.1–1.7). Having 2 or more affected first-degree relatives was associated with increased risk (RR = 1.8; 95% CI = 1.1–2.8), especially for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer before age 60 (RR = 4.2; 95% CI = 1.9–9.2) or with a personal history of breast cancer (RR = 3.7; 95% CI 1.8–7.7). Risk was also particularly high for women with 2 or more first-degree relatives with breast cancer and at least 1 affected relative diagnosed before age 50 (RR = 2.6; 95% CI = 1.4–4.8) or with bilateral breast cancer (RR = 4.2; 95% CI = 1.7–10).


A detailed breast cancer family history as well as an individual's age and personal history of breast cancer are useful for identifying women at elevated genetic risk of ovarian cancer. Cancer 2006. Published 2006 by the American Cancer Society.