Genomics and Health
Quick Facts About Family Health History and Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer and Ovarian Cancer
- Family health history is an important factor affecting a woman’s risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer.
- All women should collect and record information about their family history of breast and ovarian cancer, including the age the cancer was diagnosed. Both cancers on the mother’s and father’s sides are important.
- To collect your family history, click on My Family Health Portrait, a tool from the U.S. Surgeon General.
- There are many other factors that may increase a woman’s risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer. Learn more about other risk factors for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
- There are also choices women can make to lower their risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Learn more about reducing risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
- Most cases of breast and ovarian cancer that occur in the general population are not the result of an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
- Only 3 to 5 out of every 100 women who develop breast cancer will have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation
- About 10 to 15 of every 100 women who develop ovarian cancer will have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
- For women who have a BRCA1/2 mutation, the risk for early breast cancer and ovarian cancer is greatly increased.
- In some families breast cancer or ovarian cancer will occur due to inherited mutations in genes other than BRCA1/2. However, this is uncommon.
- Only women with increased risk family history patterns are likely to benefit from a genetic evaluation.
- Genetic counseling by a suitably trained health care provider is important to help women make informed decisions about genetic testing.
- BRCA1/2 genetic testing will provide the most useful information to families if a mutation is first identified in a family member with breast or ovarian cancer.
- Not all individuals from a family with a BRCA1/2 mutation will have the mutation.
- Women with BRCA1/2 mutations can take effective steps to prevent cancer or lower their chances of dying from cancer if it does develop.
Keep reading to understand your risks for breast and ovarian cancer and whether genetic testing might be right for you:
- Family Health History
- Family History Risk Categories
- Genetic Testing Information and Recommendations Based on Family History
- Genetic Counseling and Evaluation for BRCA1/2 Testing
- General breast cancer information, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- General ovarian cancer information, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Understanding Cancer Series: Gene Testing, National Cancer Institute, NIH
- BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing, National Cancer Institute, NIH
- Guidelines for BRCA1/2 testing, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
- Updated guidelines for breast cancer screening for women at average risk, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
- Cancer Genetics Services Directory, National Cancer Institute, NIH
- Genetics Clinic Directory, National Center for Biotechnology Information, NIH
- Find a genetic counselor, National Society of Genetic Counselors
- My Family Health Portrait — A Tool From the U.S. Surgeon General