Breast Cancer In Your Family? Are You At Risk?

Breast CancerFind more about breast cancer, history of breast cancer and if you are at risk for the disease or not.

As you all know, breast cancer is a cancer of the breast tissue.

This is a devastating disease taking several lives of wives, sisters and mothers, your loved ones or people whom you know either closely or distantly.

In order to fight this disease, awareness has to be made to each woman with respect to whether they are at risk or not, if yes then how it can be prevented.

Women without any risk for the disease should also have awareness in order to stay away from it.

Worldwide, it is the most common form of cancer in females – affecting at some time in their lives, women who reach age ninety in the Western world. Since the 1970s, after lung cancer it is the second most fatal cancer in women and the number of cases has significantly increased, a phenomenon partly blamed on modern lifestyles in the Western world.

Surprised! Breast cancer can also occur in males because the breast is composed of identical tissues in males and females, although cases of male breast cancer account for less than one percent of the total.

Be Alert! Every woman has some risk of this disease. Unfortunately about 80% of women who get this disease have no known family history of the disease. The biggest single risk factor for this disease is the increasing age, just the wear and tear of living.

Instead of worrying needlessly, discuss your family history with your physician or a genetic counselor if you do have a family history of breast cancer, because the fact is your risk may be elevated a little, a lot, or not at all.

Family history of breast cancer is more or less convincing. The risk of this disease is higher among women whose close blood relatives have this disease. Your risk of developing this disease is increased if:

  • You have relatives with both breast and ovarian cancer.
  • You have 2 or more relatives with breast or ovarian cancer.
  • The risk is higher if your mother or sister has a history of breast cancer.
  • It occurs before age 50 in a relative.
  • You have a male relative (or relatives) with breast cancer.
  • Your family history includes a history of diseases associated with hereditary breast cancer such as Li-Fraumeni or Cowden Syndrome.
  • You have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer and Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.
  • Having 1 first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with this disease approximately doubles a woman’s risk. Having 2 first-degree relatives increase her risk 5-fold.
  • Although the exact risk is not known, women with a family history of breast cancer in a father or brother also have an increased risk of this disease.
  • Altogether, about 20% to 30% of women with this disease have a family member with this disease.

Apart from the family history for breast cancer, the personal history of this disease should also be considered for risk calculation. A woman with cancer in one breast has a 3- to 4-fold increased risk of developing a new cancer in another part of the same breast or the other breast. It should be noted that this is different from cancer recurrence.