Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 118, Issue 3, pp 575–581 | Cite as

No evidence of familial correlation in breast cancer metastasis

  • Alice S. Whittemore
  • Beth Stearman
  • Vickie Venne
  • Jerry Halpern
  • Anna Felberg
  • Valerie McGuire
  • Mary Daly
  • Saundra S. Buys


Animal experiments support the hypothesis that the metastatic potential of breast cancer is a heritable trait of the host. Our objective was to evaluate correlations in metastasis occurrence in large families with multiple cases of breast cancer. We evaluated correlation among pairs of relatives in the occurrence and timing of distant metastasis using retrospective cohort data from 743 female breast cancer patients in 242 families. We adjusted for correlation in their age at diagnosis, year of diagnosis, educational level, lymph node involvement, and estrogen receptor status. Distant metastasis occurred in 255 patients (34.3%) during mean followup of 11.7 years. None of the correlation coefficients for metastasis in blood relatives differed significantly from zero. The estimated correlation coefficient in first-degree relatives was −0.03 (95% confidence interval −0.11 to 0.06). These findings suggest that a family history of metastatic breast cancer does not contribute substantially to risk of metastasis for breast cancer patients.


Breast cancer Metastatic potential Familial correlation 



This research was supported by grant number 12IB-0167 from the California Breast Cancer Research Program, and used data from the Breast Cancer Family Registry, which is supported by RFA #CA-95-011 of the US National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. The authors thank Li Hsu for a computer program to estimate correlations in censored survival data, and John Malick for data processing support at the Fox Chase Cancer Center.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice S. Whittemore
    • 1
  • Beth Stearman
    • 2
  • Vickie Venne
    • 3
  • Jerry Halpern
    • 1
  • Anna Felberg
    • 1
  • Valerie McGuire
    • 1
  • Mary Daly
    • 2
  • Saundra S. Buys
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Health Research and PolicyStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Fox Chase Cancer CenterPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Huntsman Cancer InstituteUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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