Practical Steps to Prevent Breast Cancer: Day 8 – Find Out Your Family History

It’s day eight in our nine day series highlighting key steps and practical tips that can help women lower their risk of breast cancer. Previous days.

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Day 8 – Find Out Your Family History

Women with a strong family history of breast cancer can take special steps to protect themselves, so it’s important for women to know their family history of breast and other cancers. You may be at high risk of breast cancer if you have a mother or sister who developed breast or ovarian cancer (especially at an early age) or if you have multiple family members (including males) who developed breast, ovarian and/or prostate cancer. A doctor or genetic counselor can help you understand your family history of the disease.  A doctor is also the best source of information on ways to lower or manage your breast cancer risk.

Tips and Tricks – Family History

Learn your family history. Most women will have a general idea of their family history of breast cancer, but it’s a good idea to spend a little time to get a more detailed idea of your cancer history, especially if it’s pretty clear that breast or other cancers run in your family.  A doctor or genetic counselor can help.

Keep things in perspective. Most women with a family history of breast cancer are not at high risk of the disease. In most instances, family history behaves on par with many other breast cancer risk factors. Of course, women with a very strong family history (multiple family members with cancer or inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations) have a very strong risk of breast cancer. But even these situations don’t guarantee a woman will develop the disease.

Next Steps – Family History

Looking for more in-depth information on family history? Here are some good sources:

US Surgeon General

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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