June 14, 2019 by John Fernandez
Breast Cancer: Family Matters
“Knowledge is power” is especially true when it comes to your family’s medical history. That’s because about 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are inherited, according to the American Cancer Society.
Normally, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes stop breast and ovarian cells from multiplying; but if you inherited a mutated gene, your body doesn’t have the normal protection against cancer. Certain factors contribute to having a higher risk of breast cancer.
That’s where knowledge comes in. Find out which relatives, on both parents’ sides, have had cancer, especially breast or ovarian cancer, since those cancers may be genetically linked.
Discuss your family history with a physician. If you don’t know your family history or need a better understanding of your risk level, genetic testing may help. If testing reveals that you carry either gene mutation, your physician can help you develop a proactive plan to reduce your risk.
If you have a personal or family history of any of the following factors, ask your doctor if you should consider genetic testing:
• Breast cancer at 50 or before.
• Ovarian cancer at any age.
• Cancer in both breasts.
• Close relative with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene or related cancers.
• Male breast cancer.
• Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.
• Personal history of chest radiation for another disease, such as Hodgkin lymphoma.
If no one in your family had breast cancer, you’re not off the hook. Consider this myth-busting statistic: 90 percent of individuals who develop breast cancer don’t have a family history of the disease.
If this seems confusing, learn more. Knowing where you stand empowers you to make informed health decisions. Genetic testing may sound daunting, but remember – when caught early, in the localized stage, breast cancer is one of the most treatable cancers.
For more information, call the Baptist Health Breast Center at Miami Cancer Institute Genetic Risk Education Service at 786-662-4761.