University of Toronto

Funded by: 

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (Ontario Chapter)


Recruitment Complete


In Canada, approximately 22,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually.  However, the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease and are not eligible for genetic counseling or testing.  In addition, there is very little information available on the implications for sisters, as the majority of the research focuses on daughters.  Yet sisters and daughters of breast cancer patients have the same increased risk of developing breast cancer. Sisters of these women newly diagnosed with breast cancer are dealing with the uncertainty surrounding their sisters’ diagnoses of breast cancer, in addition to the knowledge that they now are at an increased risk of developing the disease.  This may be a group of women that require education or support.  However, it is important to first assess if sisters of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients have increased distress and unmet education or support needs.  The objectives of this study were to assess the perceived breast cancer risks, levels of cancer-related distress, and information/support needs sisters of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients as well as their sisters.   Newly diagnosed breast cancer patients as well as their sisters, who were over age 25 and had no previous family history of cancer were recruited at Sunnybrook and Women’s College Hospitals and were asked to complete study-specific questionnaires.