Southampton researchers have found that women who are diagnosed with breast cancer and have a family history of the disease face no worse a prognosis after treatment than other women with breast cancer. About one-quarter of breast cancer cases in developed countries are thought to be related to hereditary factors. The researchers, funded by Cancer Research UK, analysed records from 2,850 women under the age of 41 who were diagnosed with breast cancer and treated in the UK. They recorded the patients’ personal characteristics, tumour characteristics, treatment and family history of breast or ovarian cancer over a 15-year period. The results, published in the British Journal of Surgery, found that there were no significant differences in cancer recurrence rates after treatment for women with a history of breast cancer in their family versus those without. “This information will potentially help in planning preventive surgical options at the time of breast cancer treatment. Many genes have now been identified that contribute to a family history of breast cancer in different families so the next step is to investigate whether specific breast cancer genes lead to differences in the effectiveness of anticancer treatments,” says study lead Professor Diana Eccles.