While most people diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease, a family history of certain types of cancer (breast, ovarian or prostate) can increase your risk of breast cancer. This increased risk may be due to genetic factors (known and unknown), shared lifestyle factors, or other family traits.
- Women who have a sister or mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer before age 40 have almost twice the risk of women with no family history of breast cancer.
- A history of prostate cancer in a father or brother may also increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, especially if the prostate cancer was found at a young age.
Breast cancer screening for women at higher risk
There are special breast cancer screening guidelines for some women at higher risk. If you have a higher risk of breast cancer, talk with a doctor about which screening options are right for you. You may need to be screened earlier and/or more often. Additionally, if you have a higher risk of breast cancer, there are some options that may help lower your risk, including:
- Taking risk-lowering drugs (tamoxifen or raloxifene).
- Having preventive surgery (prophylactic mastectomy or prophylactic oophorectomy).
- Such decisions should only be made after talking with your doctor.