Background: Several national medical organizations recommend more intensive screening or screening at an earlier age for individuals with a family history of breast, colorectal, or skin cancer. This study examined whether women with a family history of cancer were more likely to use breast, colorectal, or skin cancer screenings compared with those without such a family history.
Methods: The data for this study came from female respondents who participated in the 2000 National Health Interview Survey. The age range of the study subjects and the definitions of cancer screening were determined based on the American Cancer Society recommendations on cancer screening.
Results: When compared with women without a family history of breast cancer, women with a family history were more likely to undergo a screening mammogram. Women who had a family history of colorectal cancer were twice as likely to use colorectal cancer screening than women without a family history of colorectal cancer. The association of family history with colorectal and breast cancer screening was stronger among the younger age group for which a screening test is recommended if one has such a family history. The association between skin cancer screening and family history of skin cancer was significant only in younger women.
Conclusions: Women with a family history of cancer were more likely to have colorectal, breast, and skin cancer screening examinations. This may be a result of more physicians' recommendations and higher personal motivation for getting cancer screening, suggesting that the efficacy of national guidelines has been increasing somewhat.