Breast and Prostate Cancers: Double Trouble

Breast cancer risk may be higher in women with family history of prostate cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Ladies, do you have a close relative or two who has had prostate cancer? This family history may play a part in your risk of breast cancer.

A new study found that women with a family history of prostate cancer among first-degree relatives may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

The authors of this study advised doctors to take complete family history reports of all cancers of both male and female first-degree family members to better gauge women's risk of breast cancer.

Jennifer L. Beebe-Dimmer, PhD, of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, led this study.

“The increase in breast cancer risk associated with having a positive family history of prostate cancer is modest; however, women with a family history of both breast and prostate cancer among first-degree relatives have an almost 2-fold increase in risk of breast cancer,” Dr. Beebe-Dimmer said in a press release.

Dr. Beebe-Dimmer and team studied more than 78,000 women who were a part of a study called the Women’s Health Initiative between 1993 and 1998. The patients did not have breast cancer when the study began. During follow-up that ended in 2009, more than 3,500 of these patients had developed breast cancer.

If the patient had a family history of prostate cancer among her first-degree male relatives, her breast cancer risk went up by 14 percent, Dr. Beebe-Dimmer and team found. This higher risk was in comparison to women who did not have a family history of prostate cancer.

Compared to women without a family history of either cancer, women who had a family history of breast and prostate cancer had a 78 percent higher breast cancer risk.

Dr. Beebe-Dimmer and team noted that some women may overlook cancer diagnoses among male family members when looking at their own cancer risk.

This study was published March 9 in the journal Cancer.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded this research. Study authors Nancie Petrucelli and Drs. Beebe-Dimmer, Cote and Bock were independent contractors for the Women's Health Initiative Midwest Regional Center.


Review Date: 
March 8, 2015
Last Updated:
March 9, 2015