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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Breast cancer patients with lobular cancer more commonly have a father than a mother diagnosed with cancer

Carolina Ellberg12* and Håkan Olsson12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oncology, Clinical Sciences, Lund. Lund University 221 85, Lund, Sweden

2 Department of Cancer Epidemiology, Clinical Sciences, Lund. Lund University 221 85, Lund, Sweden

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:497  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-497

Published: 28 November 2011

Abstract

Background

The association between lobular breast cancer and family history is not clear. The aim of the study was to possibly identifying new hereditary patterns predisposing for cancer in the different histopathologic subtypes of breast cancer, with focus on patients with lobular breast cancer and cancer in their first degree relatives.

Methods

In 1676 consecutive breast cancer patients detailed family history of cancer was related to histopathologic subtype of breast cancer.

Results

Patients with lobular breast cancer were found to be significantly positively associated with having a father diagnosed with cancer, OR 2.17 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.37-3.46). The finding persisted after excluding breast cancer in the family. Ductal breast cancer was associated with having a mother diagnosed with cancer. There was a significant association between lobular breast cancer and having a father with prostate cancer, OR 2.4 (CI 1.1-5.3). The occurrence of having a father with prostate cancer for lobular breast cancer patients was higher in the younger patient group, OR 2.9 (CI 1.1-7.8), and was still high but lost statistical significance in the older patient group, OR 1.9 (CI 0.5-7.4). The association between lobular breast cancer and a father remained significant after excluding fathers with prostate cancer, OR 1.94 (CI 1.20-3.14). Other commonly occurring tumor types in the father included sarcoma and leukemia.

We propose that lobular breast cancer is associated with having a father diagnosed with cancer, most commonly prostate carcinoma. Since the association remained after excluding family history of breast cancer, the association seems independent of classical breast cancer heredity. The association with a father diagnosed with cancer also remained after removing prostate cancer, indicating an independence from prostate cancer as well. The reason for this association is genetically unclear, but could involve sex-specific imprinting.