But if someone in your family has had breast or ovarian cancer, your
chances of getting those cancers may be higher. And if you have 2 or 3 relatives who have had these cancers, your chances may be even higher.
Did You Know?
Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free women’s preventive services, including mammograms, birth control and well-woman visits. Learn more.
If you have a
family history of breast or ovarian cancer, it may be important to you to find
out how high your risk is so that you can decide whether to do something to
lower that risk, like take medicine or have surgery.
The best way
to find out about your risk is to talk to your doctor. But you can get some
idea of how high your risk is by knowing your family history and understanding
how it relates to breast and ovarian cancers.
What is a family history?
Having a family history means that you
have one or more blood relatives with breast or ovarian cancer.
They may be relatives who have died or relatives
who are still alive.
They may be first-degree relatives (parents,
sisters, brothers, and children).
Or they may be second-degree
relatives (aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandparents), or third-degree
relatives, which includes first cousins.
Some family histories are stronger than others. Here's what
determines whether your family history is strong:
How closely related you are to relatives with
breast or ovarian cancer. Cancer in first-degree relatives increases your risk
How young these relatives were when they were diagnosed. Having
any relatives who were diagnosed before age 50 adds to your
Whether you have both breast and ovarian cancer in your
family. Having both adds to your risk.
Whether you have a father or brother who had breast cancer.
Breast cancer in men is rare, but when it happens in your family, it adds to
Whether you have an Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. Breast
and ovarian cancer rates are much higher among Ashkenazi Jews (Jews whose
ancestors came from Eastern Europe).
In the tables below, the figures are only rough estimates
from research studies. Lifetime risk means the chance that you will get these
cancers sometime during your life. These numbers may not apply to you, but they
can give you an idea of how high your risk may be.
How does family history affect your lifetime risk for breast cancer?
About 12 out of 100 women will get
1 first-degree relative with breast cancer
About 24 out of 100 women will get
2 first-degree relatives with breast cancer
About 36 out of 100 women will get