Family history and the risk of breast cancer

Bar graph of family history and breast cancer risk

On average, 12 out of 100 women will get breast cancer. If someone in your family has had breast cancer, your chances of getting it may be higher than average. The more relatives you have with breast cancer, the more your chances go up.

Sometimes a very strong family history of breast cancer is caused by a mutated gene that runs in the family. The gene is called a BRCA gene. Women who inherit this gene change are much more likely to get breast or ovarian cancer.

Last Updated: August 18, 2009

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Joy Melnikow, MD, MPH - Family Medicine & Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology

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