Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. One out of four diagnosed with cancer has breast cancer. With increasing awareness drives, women have become vigilant towards their breast health. Regular self examination is the first step towards prevention of breast cancer. But what about women who have a family history of breast cancer? Are they at risk of breast cancer? We spoke to two doctors to know if breast cancer can be hereditary.
Is Breast Cancer Hereditary?
Dr. Ashwin Rajbhoj, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Dr. Rajbhoj Cancer Care, Pune says that “the most prevalent malignancy in women is breast cancer. It is a condition in which the breast's cells proliferate out of control. It's estimated that hereditary factors account for 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases wherein children inherit faulty genes from their parents increasing their risk of developing breast cancer risk in them. The two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, have mutations that are responsible for most inherited cases of breast cancer. Even though possessing a positive family history of these mutations puts women at a higher risk of early onset of this cancer, there are certain measures one can take for early detection and treatment. Routine mammogram and breast MRI should be done every year after the age of 30 or less, examining breasts on their own every month is recommended to this group of women.”
“Hereditary cancer means cancer runs in your family and could be the result of a change in certain genes that you inherited from your parents. When gene abnormalities, also known as mutations or alterations, are passed down from mother or father to a child within a family, it results in inherited breast cancer,” explains Dr. Shreeniwas Raut, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Bharati Hospital, Pune.
Dr. Raut also adds that it is crucial to keep in mind that the vast majority of people who get breast cancer have neither clear risk factors nor a significant family history of the disease while thinking about their risk factors.
Breast cancer development is influenced by a variety of risk factors like internal or hormonal, exposures, lifestyle factors or environmental factors. All persons therefore need to be conscious of changes in their breasts. Additionally, they should discuss with their physician the advantages of routine medical breast checks and mammograms.
Genetic testing for breast cancer is important
Now that the doctors have confirmed hereditary breast cancer, if you know someone in your family who got breast cancer, you must get a genetic testing done. Through genetic testing, you can find out about various chronic and fatal conditions including breast cancer. Consult an oncologist and seek their help to schedule a genetic test from a trusted lab only. This test would tell you your chances of developing breast cancer and you can take further steps accordingly. Upon knowing about the potential risk, you can exercise ways of prevention and regular screening of breast cancer to manage it.
In a nutshell, breast cancer is hereditary but not everyone having a family history of breast cancer needs to be worried. Regular screening and genetic testing can help in management and treatment at an early stage.
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