Consideration of family history of cancer in medical routine: a survey in the primary care setting in Germany.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


European journal of cancer prevention : the official journal of the European Cancer Prevention Organisation (ECP) (2013)


2013, August 2013, Public Health Sciences Division


Family history of cancer (FHC) is important in the context of cancer prevention and risk counselling, but there is a lack of information about its consideration in medical routine. We aimed to characterize how FHC is assessed and taken into account in the primary care setting in Germany. We conducted a mail survey among 285 office-based physicians in south-west Germany. We sent a questionnaire to randomly selected general practitioners, dermatologists, gastroenterologists, gynaecologists, urologists and pulmonologists, asking about collection of information on FHC and implications for preventive counselling. A total of 207 physicians returned the questionnaire (response rate 73%), of whom 71% reported asking for FHC routinely, 17% reported useing a standardized tool to collect the information and 35% reported regularly updating it. Implications of a positive FHC for counselling were heterogeneous, with priority on recommendations for screening. Referral to genetic counselling was considered by 34% of physicians, mainly gastroenterologists and gynaecologists. In the primary care setting in Germany, FHC is considered an important topic, but there is a lack of standardization in collecting the information and heterogeneity on the implications for counselling. Options to improve this situation, such as the implementation of standardized tools or centralized counselling systems, are needed.