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If my Mother and Grandmother both died of Breast Cancer, will I get it? How great is my Risk to have it?
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
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
Onset of disease before age 50, several effected relatives and affected men
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
About 10 - 20% of women have a positive family history
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