PURPOSE: A family history of colorectal cancer is an important risk factor for the disease. A positive family history means that endoscopic screening should be recommended and a strongly positive family history raises the possibility of a dominantly inherited syndrome. This study was performed to find how often and how accurately a family history of colorectal cancer was recorded in the charts of patients on a colorectal surgical ward. A second aim was to see whether family history-taking could be improved. METHODS: The charts of 100 inpatients on a colorectal surgical floor were reviewed for the presence of a family history of colorectal cancer. Any chart documentation was compared with a family history obtained by a detailed interview. The chart review was repeated four years later. RESULTS: In the initial review, we found that a family history was recorded in 45 of 100 charts. It was accurate for colorectal cancer in 36 charts. Four years later, the rate of family history recording increased to 61 of 96, whereas the accuracy rate (45/61) did not change. Responses to a simple screening question asking about a family history of colorectal cancer were accurate in 77 percent of patients. CONCLUSIONS: Not all colorectal surgical patients have their family histories recorded, and even when it is recorded, it is not always correct. Despite improvement during a four-year period, there is still room for further improvement in the recording of a family history of colorectal cancer. Physicians should make an effort to ask this question and document the response in the hospital chart.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Church JM. Endoscopy of the colon, rectum and anus. Tokyo: Igaku-Shoin, 1995:270–4.
Brewer DA, Fung CL, Chapuis PH, Bokey EL. Should relatives of patients with colorectal cancer be screened? A critical review of the literature. Dis Colon Rectum 1994;37:1328–38.
Winawer SJ, Fletcher RH, Miller L,et al. Colorectal cancer screening: clinical guidelines and rationale. Gastroenterology 1997;112:594–642.
Guidelines for colorectal cancer screening and surveillance. American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Publication No. 1014, 2000.
Vasen HF, Mecklin J-P, Khan PM, Lynch HT. The International Collaborative Group on Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (ICG-HNPCC). Dis Colon Rectum 1991;34:424–5.
Rodriguez-Bigas MA, Boland CR, Hamilton SR,et al. A National Cancer Institute workshop on hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer syndrome: meeting highlights and Bethesda guidelines. J Natl Cancer Inst 1997;89:1758–62.
Lynch HT, Follett KL, Lynch PM,et al. Family history in an oncology clinic. Implications for cancer genetics. JAMA 1979;242:1268–72.
David KL, Steiner-Grossman P. The potential use of tumor registry data in the recognition and prevention of hereditary and familial cancer. NY State J Med 1991;91:150–2.
Lynch HT. Cancer and the family history trail. NY State J Med 1991;91:145–7.
Church J. Family history: the key to inherited colorectal cancer. In: Church JM, Williams BR, Casey G. Molecular genetics and colorectal neoplasia: a primer for the clinician. Tokyo: Igaku-Shoin, 1996.
About this article
Cite this article
Church, J., McGannon, E. Family history of colorectal cancer. Dis Colon Rectum 43, 1540–1544 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02236735
- Colorectal cancer
- Family history