If you’re considered to be at high risk of developing breast cancer, have a complex family history or if further investigation into your family history would be helpful in understanding your risk, you’ll be offered a genetic counselling appointment with a Genetic Councellor.
They can help you understand more about your family history, your risk of developing breast cancer and the options that may be available to you, such as:
- Genetic testing
- Drug treatments and surgery to reduce the risk of cancer.
Any discussions about genetic testing, its implications and the possible outcomes often happen over several visits
Family History is significant if
- One close relative who has had breast cancer before the age of 40
- Two or more close relatives who have had breast cancer
- Close relatives who have had breast cancer and others who have had ovarian cancer
- One close relative who has had breast cancer in both breasts (bilateral breast cancer)
- A male relative who has had breast cancer
- Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
Genetic counseling for these genes - known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations - can tell a woman whether she is at increased risk for these cancers. Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 account for approximately 80-90% of all hereditary breast cancers, and women who carry mutations in these genes have a lifetime risk of breast cancer that is roughly 10 times greater than that of the general population.