Background: Previous studies have suggested that cancers of the breast and prostate cluster in families and that the presence of both diseases in a family may be associated with increased risk of breast cancer. Purpose: Our purpose was to evaluate whether 1) prostate cancer aggregates in families with postmenopausal breast cancer, 2) families with cancers of the breast and prostate are the same ones as families with cancers of the breast and ovary, and 3) a family history of prostate cancer is associated with increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Methods: We analyzed data from a large prospective cohort study of Iowa women that were (at baseline) aged 55-69 years in 1986. At the third follow-up survey in 1992, self-reported data on family history of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers in parents and siblings were provided by 30 883 women. Additional information was collected to ascertain whether the age-of-onset of breast cancer in mothers or sisters was before or after the age of 45 years. Cancer occurrence was documented using the State Health Registry of Iowa. Results: History of prostate cancer in their father or a brother was reported by 3384 (11.0%) of the women, and a total of 4090 women (13.2%) reported breast cancer in their mother or a sister. A positive family history of both cancers was reported by 556 women, significantly (two-sided P<.001) greater than the 457 women expected if the family histories were independent. The aggregation of breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers was reported by 22 participants, greater than the 2.7 expected (two-sided P<.0001). During 6 years of follow-up, 578 breast cancers were identified in the cohort at risk. Compared with women without a family history of either cancer, women with a family history of breast cancer had a relative risk (RR) of 1.37 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.06-1.79) if the affected relative had onset after the age of 45 years, and an RR of 1.71 (95% CI = 1.13-2.61) if the affected relative had onset at or before the age of 45. A family history of prostate cancer in the absence of a family history of breast cancer was associated with an RR of 1.19 (95% CI = .90-1.56). However, a family history of both breast and prostate cancers was associated with RRs of 2.06 (95% CI = 1.23-3.45) and 2.35 (95% CI = .97-5.67) for breast cancer onset in relatives of greater than 45 and less than or equal to 45 years, respectively. Conclusions: These observations are concordant with recent reports that suggest a shared familial risk (inherited or environmental) for these hormone-dependent malignancies. [J Natl Cancer Inst 86: 1860-1865, 1994]
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Supported by Public Health Service grant CA39742 from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services.