Study says docs often discount dad's side in breast cancer screening

Even though between 5 and 10 percent of breast and ovarian cancers can be traced to genetic causes, half of women's genetic heritage--that held in their fathers' genes--is often disregarded by family doctors, according to researchers writing in Lancet Oncology.

As the BBC reports, much of the genetic risk of breast and ovarian cancer comes from defects in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. So, a woman's family history is taken into account when a family doctor decides to refer her to a specialist for genetic testing.

The problem is that doctors often look only at the mother's side of the woman's family, and not the father's, even though there is just as much of a likelihood that the father could carry BRCA1 or BRCA2 as the mother. The researchers found that women with a maternal cancer history were five times more likely to be referred by family doctors.

The Lancet Oncology research, led by Jeanna McCuaig from the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, concluded the reason is a lack of knowledge in women and in family doctors about the risks on the father's side.

- read the BBC report