A study trying to find the best way to work out breast cancer risk for women with a strong family history (FHRisk)

Cancer type:

Breast cancer





This study looked at improving the way specialists work out the risk of breast cancer in women who have a family history of the disease. 

The women who took part in this study had a strong family history of breast cancer and had their risk assessed at a Family History Clinic in Manchester.


More about this trial

Having a number of relatives who’ve had breast cancer (or some other cancers) can increase your own risk of getting breast cancer. If you have a significant family history of breast cancer you may see a specialist who can assess your risk.
The specialists at the Family History Clinic assess your risk based on how strong your family history is and some other factors such as:
  • the age you were when you started having periods
  • whether or not you have children and if so, what age you were when you had your first child
  • whether or not you breastfed
  • whether you have been through the menopause, and if so at what age
In this study, the researchers wanted to find if there was a more accurate way of working out each individual’s risk. 
To do this they combined the following information:
  • the family history clinic assessment 
  • how dense breast tissue appeared on mammogram
  • results of blood tests that look for particular gene changes

Summary of results

The team found the accuracy of an individual’s assessment of risk for breast cancer can be increased by combining:
  • their family history
  • results of a blood test looking at changes in genes (SNP Open a glossary item)
  • mammography showing how dense the breast tissue is 
This study was open for women to join between 2010 and 2012.
These results were reported in 2016. 
About this study
The team were able to look at the family history and assessment of risk for breast cancer in more than 10,000 women who went to the Family History Clinic in Manchester. 
The team compared the family history models that were used to assess and predict the women’s risk of breast cancer. 
They then looked at adding the SNPs and the density of the breast tissue to see if it improved the assessment.  
When the team compared the family history models they found that all of the models were very good at giving the women a risk category. But weren’t very good at giving an individual assessment of their risk. 
When they added the gene changes (SNPs) they found that some did improve the assessment of risk, in particular SNP18. They found it was most useful in assessing the risk of breast cancer for women who didn’t have the BRCA1 Open a glossary item gene change or BRCA2 Open a glossary item gene change.
They also found that looking at the SNPs didn’t add any information for women who had the BRCA1 gene change (mutation Open a glossary item). 
The team found that when they included information about the density of breast tissue along with the family history it helped them to predict the risk of breast cancer. And it identified significantly more women whose breast cancer was a late stage (stage 3 or stage 4) who had an above average risk of breast cancer. 
The team concluded that the assessment of risk for breast cancer might be improved by adding the gene changes (SNPs) and breast tissue density to the family history models. 
Where this information comes from
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) but may not have been published in a medical journal.  The figures we quote above were provided by the research team. We have not analysed the data ourselves. 

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Gareth Evans

Supported by

NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR)


If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Deborah wanted to help other breast cancer patients in the future

A picture of Deborah

“Deborah agreed to take part in a trial as she was keen to help other cancer patients in the future. "If taking part in a trial means others might be helped then I’m very happy with that."

Last reviewed:

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