Long-term evaluation of women referred to a breast cancer family history clinic (Manchester UK 1987–2020)

Anthony Howell, Ashu Gandhi, Sacha Howell, Mary Wilson, Anthony Maxwell, Susan Astley, Michelle Harvie, Mary Pegington, Lester Barr, Andrew Baildam, Elaine Harkness, Penelope Hopwood, Julie Wisely, Andrea Wilding, Rosemary Greenhalgh, Jenny Affen, Andrew Maurice, Sally Cole, Julia Wiseman, Fiona LallooDavid P. French, D. Gareth Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clinics for women concerned about their family history of breast cancer are widely established. A Family History Clinic was set-up in Manchester, UK, in 1987 in a Breast Unit serving a population of 1.8 million. In this review, we report the outcome of risk assessment, screening and prevention strategies in the clinic and propose future approaches. Between 1987–2020, 14,311 women were referred, of whom 6.4% were from known gene families, 38.2% were at high risk (≥30% lifetime risk), 37.7% at moderate risk (17–29%), and 17.7% at an average/population risk who were discharged. A total of 4168 (29.1%) women were eligible for genetic testing and 736 carried pathogenic variants, predominantly in BRCA1 and BRCA2 but also other genes (5.1% of direct referrals). All women at high or moderate risk were offered annual mammographic screening between ages 30 and 40 years old: 646 cancers were detected in women at high and moderate risk (5.5%) with a detection rate of 5 per 1000 screens. Incident breast cancers were largely of good prognosis and resulted in a predicted survival advantage. All high/moderate-risk women were offered lifestyle prevention advice and 14–27% entered various lifestyle studies. From 1992–2003, women were offered entry into IBIS-I (tamoxifen) and IBIS-II (anastrozole) trials (12.5% of invitees joined). The NICE guidelines ratified the use of tamoxifen and raloxifene (2013) and subsequently anastrozole (2017) for prevention; 10.8% women took up the offer of such treatment between 2013–2020. Since 1994, 7164 eligible women at ≥25% lifetime risk of breast cancer were offered a discussion of risk-reducing breast surgery and 451 (6.2%) had surgery. New approaches in all aspects of the service are needed to build on these results.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3697
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2020


  • Breast cancer
  • Family history
  • Genes
  • Prevention
  • Risk
  • Screening

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre


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