Breast Cancer: Your Genetic Risk

Your family's breast cancer risk is also your own.


All women have a lifetime 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. General recommendations include monthly breast self-exams, yearly clinical exams, and annual mammograms starting at age 40 (or 50, depending on your doctor's recommendation). But if you have a strong family history of breast cancer, there may be extra steps you can take to protect yourself. Use the chart below to understand your risk and to schedule earlier screenings and additional tests. Catching tumors when they are smaller can increase a woman's survival rate from 27 to 72 percent.

The Connection: Sister or mother, diagnosed at age 60
Number of Relatives Affected: 1
Your Lifetime Risks: 10%
Steps to Take: 1. Monthly self-breast and yearly clinical exams. 2. Annual mammograms at age 40.

The Connection: Both grandmothers (paternal and maternal), diagnosed at age 60
Number of Relatives Affected: 2
Your Lifetime Risks: 10%
Steps to Take: 1. Monthly self-breast and yearly clinical exams. 2. Annual mammograms at age 40.

The Connection: Sister or mother, diagnosed at age 35
Number of Relatives Affected: 1
Your Lifetime Risks: 17%
Steps to Take: 1. Monthly self-breast and yearly clinical exams. 2. Annual mammograms, starting at age 25 to 30. 3. Women with a 15 to 20 percent risk should talk to their doctor about MRL screenings.

The Connection: Sister and mother, diagnosed at age 60
Number of Relatives Affected: 2
Your Lifetime Risks: 16%
Steps to Take: 1. Monthly self-breast and yearly clinical exams. 2. Annual mammograms, starting at age 25 to 30. 3. Women with a 15 to 20 percent risk should talk to their doctor about MRL screenings.

The Connection: Mother and paternal aunt, diagnosed at age 35
Number of Relatives Affected: 2
Your Lifetime Risks: 18%
Steps to Take: 1. Monthly self-breast and yearly clinical exams. 2. Annual mammograms, starting at age 25 to 30. 3. Women with a 15 to 20 percent risk should talk to their doctor about MRL screenings.

The Connection: Sister and mother diagnosed at age 40
Number of Relatives Affected: 2
Your Lifetime Risks: 40%
Steps to Take: 1. Monthly self-breast and yearly clinical exams. 2. Annual mammograms, start at age 30 to 35. 3. MRL screenings recommended for women with risk factors of 20 percent or higher. 4. Genetic counseling may be recommended for women with risk factors of 25% or over.

The Connection: Mother and maternal aunt diagnosed at age 40
Number of Relatives Affected: 2
Your Lifetime Risks: 34%
Steps to Take:1. Monthly self-breast and yearly clinical exams. 2. Annual mammograms, start at age 30 to 35. 3. MRL screenings recommended for women with risk factors of 20 percent or higher. 4. Genetic counseling may be recommended for women with risk factors of 25% or over.

The Connection: Aunt and grandmom (both paternal or both maternal), diagnosed at age 35
Number of Relatives Affected: 2
Your Lifetime Risks: 25%
Steps to Take: 1. Monthly self-breast and yearly clinical exams. 2. Annual mammograms, start at age 30 to 35. 3. MRL screenings recommended for women with risk factors of 20 percent or higher. 4. Genetic counseling may be recommended for women with risk factors of 25% or over.

The Connection: Mother and sister with ovarian cancer (any age)
Number of Relatives Affected: 2
Your Lifetime Risks: 31%
Steps to Take: 1. Monthly self-breast and yearly clinical exams. 2. Annual mammograms, start at age 30 to 35. 3. MRL screenings recommended for women with risk factors of 20 percent or higher. 4. Genetic counseling may be recommended for women with risk factors of 25% or over.

The Connection: You or your mother or sister is diagnosed with BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 gene (any age)
Number of Relatives Affected: 1
Your Lifetime Risks: 80%
Steps to Take: Along with the above recommendations, you may want to discuss the use of tamoxifen, raloxifene, or surgery with your doctor.


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