Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Genetic Changes Influence Breast Cancer Development and Survival


What is the place of genetic testing in prevention of breast cancer? Roy Smith, MD, director of medical affairs and medical oversight at the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project in Pittsburgh, answered that question for WebMD in an interview on the paper. He says, "Right now you'll get different opinions from different people, but what most women need to know is whether they have a family history of breast cancer. If the answer is yes, then you need to think about more aggressive surveillance."

Smith continues, "We're going to be hearing a lot more about mutations that are related to breast cancer, and women who have these mutations are getting scared. Some of them are saying, 'I have a family history of breast cancer, we need to take this breast off,' but the more conservative view is these women need to do regular breast self-exams and have regular mammograms. They also need to be reassured that just because you have a family history or a mutation, it doesn't mean you will necessarily develop breast cancer."

Vital Information:

  • Women who have the genetic mutation called BRCA are more likely to develop breast cancer before age 50, start treatment with more advanced disease, have lymph node involvement, experience tumor recurrence, and have shorter survival.
  • The presence of the mutation alone does not predict survival and should not affect treatment decisions following surgery.
  • A researcher suggests that women who have BRCA mutations undergo advanced surveillance starting at age 25, with self-breast exams each month, breast exams by a profession three to four times per year, and mammography.
1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow