Family history? The forgotten question in high-risk colorectal cancer patients.

Research paper by W W Foo, J M JM Young, M J MJ Solomon, C M CM Wright

Indexed on: 11 Jun '09Published on: 11 Jun '09Published in: Colorectal Disease


The aim of the study was to investigate the frequency and detail of family history recorded for patients diagnosed with potentially high-risk colorectal cancer, and to determine the proportion of these patients referred to a high-risk assessment clinic.Medical records of patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer under the age of 50 admitted to a major Sydney teaching hospital were reviewed. The proportion of records containing information about family history was calculated. Associations between recording of family history and demographic and clinical characteristics of patients were investigated. Logistic regression modelling was performed to identify significant, independent predictors of study outcomes.Of 113 patients with colorectal cancer diagnosed under the age of 50 years, 61 (54%, 95% CI: 44-63%) had an entry in their hospital medical record about family history. Family history was significantly less likely to be recorded for females, for those admitted via the Emergency Department, and for those with shorter lengths of stay. A significant family history was found in 51% of the 61 patients who had a family history recorded. Records of patients attending specialist colorectal surgeons were significantly more likely to contain information about family history than those who attended other specialists (P = 0.04). Only 14 patients (12%, 95% CI: 7-20%) were formally referred for further genetic assessment.These results suggest that family history is still being neglected in routine clinical practice, and high-risk assessment services are underutilized, implying the need for further dissemination of guidelines with regard to the recognition and management of hereditary colorectal cancer.