If my Mother and Grandmother both died of Breast Cancer, will I get it? How great is my Risk to have it?

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If your mother, grandmother or sister or any other close relative has been diagnosed with either breast cancer or ovarian cancer before age 40, you should consider yourself at risk for having a disease gene. The age at diagnosis is the key information. If two of your relatives were diagnosed before age 60, your risk is about 15%. If only one of your relative is diagnosed before age 60, you should consult a physician, as you are at increased risk of getting breast cancer due to genetic reasons.

Breast Cancer High Risk Cases
Mother or sister diagnosed before age 40
Mother or sister diagnosed before age 50 and a close blood relative with cancer of breast, ovary,colon or endometrium or a sarcoma before age 65
Dominant history of disease (4 cases of breast or ovarian cancer or both on same side of the family)
History of cancer in mother or father (diagnosed before age 50) and atleast one close relative with breast cancer before age 50
2 or more cancers of related type in close relative on father's side, diagnosed before age 50
source: Emery and Rimoin's practice of medical genetics

Excluding skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in women in the United States and in Europe. Today, in the United States there are about 1,000,000 women who have been diagnosed with the disease. In 2000, more than 225,000 new cases were identified and nearly 40,000 women died of the disease.

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Am I at high risk for Breast Cancer?

Risk of developing breast cancer varies widely from one country to another. One study showed urban women in United States were diagnosed 6 times more often than women in Japan. Interestingly this study also showed that Japanese women whom migrated to United States acquire the risk of the country in which they live.

Some of the risk factors are:

  • The Older the woman, the greater her risk
  • White and Black women are at greater risk than Asian women.
  • People of higher socioeconomic status have 2-3 times higher risk than those of lower economic groups (so if you are poor, be happy)
  • Having a mother or sister with breast cancer (assuming that the environment in which you live are the same).
  • Very late first pregnancy
  • Early menarche and late menopause
  • Nulliparity (never being pregnant)
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Past history of having breast cancer
  • Oral contraceptives (due to political reasons, this risk is usually hided from public)

I have summarized the family risk factors for breast cancer in the table below.

Familial Risk for Breast Cancer

Feature
Risk
Characteristics
Onset of disease before age 50, several effected relatives and affected men
Risk
Affected first- degree relative (risk increases 2.5 fold)
 
If the first-degree relative has cancer in both breasts ( risk is 3 fold )
 
Family history of prostate, endometrial or ovarian cancer
Prevalence
About 10 - 20% of women have a positive family history

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Comments 3 comments

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emdi profile image

emdi 5 years ago Author

Thank You sunchild28 for the feedback. As I have mentioned in the article, here it is assumed that you share the same environment as your mother. More over, these studies reports the risk percentage (say u have 15% risk of getting it). These risk percentage are calculated (statistical analysis)based on the number of people who got the disease, when their mothers or grandmothers had already died of the same disease. This does not mean, you will definitely get it, just the chance of getting is higher.

Another way to understand this concept is: 'Smoking causes Lung Cancer'. This does not mean all those who smoke get lung cancer, just the chance of getting lung cancer is higher.


sunchild28 profile image

sunchild28 5 years ago from Nigeria

Nice hub but am not of the believe that since your granny and your mussy died of the deadly ailment it also applies that any female in the linage will definitely suffer the same because you don't in anyway share the same destiny with anybody,if you believe it like that you will see yourself jumping and passing it.

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