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Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancers

Do you have an elevated risk?

Know Your Risk

One in eight American women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. The odds of being diagnosed with breast cancer are even higher for women who do have a family history or genetic marker for breast or ovarian cancer.

Research clearly shows a link between certain genes and cancer risks, including breast, colorectal, endometrial (uterine), melanoma, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate and thyroid cancers. The link is often strongest in families where:

  • Cancer is diagnosed before age 50.
  • Cancer shows up in more than one generation.
  • Individual family members have bilateral cancer (cancer in both the left and right breasts).
  • Cancer occurs in the less commonly affected gender (male breast cancer).
  • Several rare cancers (ovarian, pancreatic, sarcoma) occur in a family.

Personal Cancer Risk Assessment

Use this 3, 2, 1 tool to see if you are at high risk for breast or ovarian cancer.

Do you have:

3 or more relatives on the same side of your family with breast, pancreatic or aggressive prostate cancer (Gleason score of 7 or greater for prostate cancer — a Gleason score is a system to help doctors determine the scale or how advanced the prostate cancer is) at any age.

2 or more relatives on the same side of your family with breast cancer with one being diagnosed under age 50 and/or aggressive prostate cancer (Gleason score 7 or greater — a Gleason score is a system to help doctors determine the scale or how advanced the prostate cancer is).

1 close relative who was diagnosed with:

  • Breast cancer at or before age 45.
  • Male breast cancer.
  • Ovarian cancer.
  • Pancreatic cancer.
  • Metastatic prostate cancer.

Or can you answer yes to 1 of these about yourself?

  • Breast cancer diagnosed at or before age 50.
  • Triple negative breast cancer at or before age 60.
  • Bilateral or two primary breast cancers (same or both breasts).
  • Male breast cancer.
  • Ovarian cancer.
  • Pancreatic cancer.
  • Metastatic prostate cancer.
  • Are you of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry or has someone in your family been identified with a known hereditary cancer gene alteration.

If you answer yes to any of the above, then your personal or family history may indicate an elevated risk for breast or ovarian cancer. Make an appointment today to complete your personal cancer risk assessment with a licensed genetic counselor. Call us at 302-623-4593, option 1, or toll-free at 1-800-811-8116. Your doctor may recommend genetic consultation to further assess your family history and determine if genetic testing is an option for you or your family. Your ChristianaCare genetic counselor will help you consider treatment and lifestyle options to reduce your risks or diagnostic options to help you detect cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage.

Cancer Causes

Hereditary breast and ovarian cancers are most commonly caused by changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. For women who carry a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, the risk of breast cancer rises to somewhere between 58 – 87 percent and the risk of ovarian cancer is between 16 and 60 percent. For men with these alterations, the risk to develop breast cancer and prostate cancer is also increased. In addition, all individuals with alterations in the BRCA2 gene may have an increased risk for melanoma and pancreatic cancer.

Recent advances have also identified other genes that cause an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Additional testing (beyond BRCA1 and BRCA2) is available for these genes. Scientists are identifying other genes that may be associated with increased risk for cancer. Ask your genetic counselor today if you should be tested for genes associated with breast and ovarian cancers.

Hispanic female expertise giving advice to cancer patient while examining x-ray at doctor's office.

Manage Your Risk

Testing positive for a hereditary gene does not mean you will definitely develop breast cancer, but it does indicate that you are at higher risk and should work with your doctor to decide how best to manage that increased risk.

If your test results show you are at high-risk, ChristianaCare’s High-Risk Breast and Ovarian Cancer Surveillance Program can help.

Knowing your personal risk based on your family health history may help you and your doctor prevent cancer or detect it early when it is most treatable.

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Contact Us

Make an appointment today to complete your personal cancer risk assessment with a licensed genetic counselor, and to learn more about how you can be part of Delaware’s high-risk family cancer registry. Call 302-623-4593, option 1, or toll-free at 1-800-811-8116.