April 23, 2010, Newsletter Issue #125: Weighing your Family History Risk Factor for Breast Cancer

Tip of the Week

Category: Modifiable Breast Cancer Risk Factors

When a family member is diagnosed with breast cancer, it may leave you wondering how much your own risk is increased for developing this disease. While research indicates that women with a family history of breast cancer are at higher risk, it’s important to weigh in all the information you know about family members who were diagnosed with breast cancer before jumping to conclusions. Following are five family history factors that may increase your personal risk of breast cancer: 1) The family member who had breast cancer is a first-degree relative, (i.e., your parent, sibling or child); 2) The relative developed breast cancer at a younger age than average, (according to the National Cancer Institute, most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50 years old, and the average age at diagnosis is 64); 3) The relative had cancer in both breasts; 4) A first-degree relative had ovarian cancer; 5) A first-degree male relative had breast cancer. Two or more first-degree relatives who have had breast cancer weigh into your risk factor more heavily than one. Also, when you weigh in these factors, keep in mind that the first-degree relative may be on your father’s side of the family, as well as your mother’s. If you have one or more of the above factors in your family history, tell your healthcare team so they can keep you informed any new developments in reducing your family history risk factor for breast cancer.

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