My mum had breast cancer at a young age. Does that mean I will too?

Not necessarily. It depends on her age, the type of breast cancer and whether she has a strong family history of breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer.

If you have relatives diagnosed in their 80s, you are likely at average risk. Breast cancer is a common cancer. In Australia, 1 out of 10 women will be affected by breast cancer by age 75.  And, the average age for breast cancer is 60.

Breast cancer that occurs at a young age may be a clue to that there is an inherited genetic cause.  Some other clues include:

  • breast cancer under 40 years.
  • a family history of both breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
  • a male relative with breast cancer.
  • more than one relative with breast cancer under 50 years.
  • bilateral breast cancer, with the first cancer occurring before 50 years.
  • particular types of breast cancer, such as the “triple negative” type.

Sounds like your family? Complete our Family History Questionnaire and discuss it with your doctor. Or make an appointment to discuss your family history of breast cancer with our genetic oncologist, Dr Hilda High

At Sydney Cancer Genetics we provide personalised strategies to reduce your breast cancer risk. These may include starting breast cancer screening at a younger age, using breast MRI as well as mammograms, lifestyle factors and even considering risk reducing surgery or medications.

We can organise genetic testing, via a blood or saliva test. In some cases, we may even test the genes in the stored tumour block from a relative’s cancer.

How much does genetic testing cost? The cost depends on which gene or genes we test. It is much more affordable these days and in some circumstances even bulk billed. On average, it costs between $450 for individual genes or a small panel to $1000 for a 27 gene panel in Australia.

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