Know Your Risks

 

Family History and Cancer Risk

 

Family history is the best predictor of disease risk. Geneticists and genetic counselors look for specific patterns in a family history which may be suggestive of a hereditary predisposition to cancer.

 

If you or someone in your family has had any of the following, you are at high risk to have a BRCA mutation:

Breast cancer diagnosed before age 50 years

Ovarian cancer

Cancer in both breasts

Both breast and ovarian cancers

Multiple breast cancers

Two or more primary types of breast, ovarian, or pancreatic cancer in a single family member

Cases of male breast cancer

Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry

 

Regardless of personal or family history of cancer, individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have a 1 in 40 (or 2.5%) risk of carrying a BRCA mutations.

 

BRCA Cancer Risks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • In addition to these cancers, BRCA carriers (both females and males) are at increased risk to develop pancreatic cancer, melanoma, and male breast and prostate cancers.

 

  • BRCA carriers are at an increased risk to develop cancer, but there is no guarantee that a carrier will ever get cancer.

 

Passing Down BRCA Mutations

 

Each child of a BRCA carrier has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation. Another way to see it is that if someone is a carrier, one of his or her parents must be a carrier, and each of his or her siblings has a 50% chance of being a carrier. Men can carry a mutation as well, which also has a 50% chance of being passed down to their children.