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Breast Cancer: Know Your Family History

For some patients, the risk of developing breast cancer is in their genes. About 5 percent to 10 percent of breast cancers are hereditary — primarily caused by genetic mutations inherited from either a mother or father.

Genetic testing for these mutations has been available for more than a decade. “Testing can be scary but for high-risk patients it is important,” said genetic educator Rae Wruble, R.N. “The results can tell us someone’s risk for cancer and guide us toward appropriate action, such as surgery and medical management.”

Other risk factors include having a first-degree relative (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer, being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 or younger, having three or more relatives on the same side of the family with breast cancer at any age, having male breast cancer and being diagnosed with ovarian cancer at any age.

“Patients need to discuss their family histories with their doctor,” said Cristina Lopez Peñalver, M.D. [1] breast cancer surgeon at Miami Cancer Institute [2]. “By understanding risks, patients can make informed decisions about how to detect potential cancer. Knowledge is power.”

For that 5-10 percent of patients whose breast cancer risk is higher because of genetic factors, here are some facts about genetic risk:

 Who Should Consider Genetic Testing?

If you are concerned about your risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer, contact the Baptist Health Breast Center’s Genetic Risk Education Service [3] at 786-662-4761 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

 Source: American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute