Some women have a higher chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The factors that increase the chance of having breast cancer include having a hereditary risk, meaning relatives (eg., mother, father,  sister, daughter) who may have been diagnosed with breast cancer. A history of breast cancer in your family may be linked to having an abnormal gene that is passed on over time. For example, defects in BRAC1, BRAC2 and PTEN genes are linked to breast cancer, and these mutations can be passed on in a family.

Breast cancer screening

It is important to know which screening options are right for you whether or not you have a history of breast cancer. For women with a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about your options, so you know more about hereditary breast cancer and the best screening options for you.

It’s important to know your breast cancer risk.  Take this brief quiz to find out more. This questionnaire will help you determine whether you should be further evaluated for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome, Lynch syndrome, or other hereditary cancers.  Take the quiz here!

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Risk lowering options

For women with a higher risk of breast cancer, you can reduce your risk.

  • First option is taking risk-lowering drugs such as tamoxifen or raloxifene.
  • Second option is removing both breasts (prophylactic mastectomy). However, some breast tissue remains after this surgery, thus there is a small chance that breast cancer can still occur.
  • A third option is removal of the ovaries (prophylactic oophorectomy).
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Coping with new body image

For some women, removal of your breast or ovaries has a strong emotional impact. Their new body image may affect how they feel sexually, and as a woman. Joining support groups , speaking with another young woman who has gone through the same situation, or speaking with a health care provider or counselor can help you work through these concerns.