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

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

No! It depends on what the risk is and what you do about it.

There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer. You may consider starting breast cancer screening at a younger age, using breast MRI as well as mammograms. You may concentrate on lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet and exercise. And, depending on the risk, you may even consider risk reducing surgery or medications such as Tamoxifen.

Breast cancer that occurs at a young age may be a clue to an inherited genetic cause associated with a high risk. Clues include:

  • breast cancer before 40.
  • particular types of breast cancer, such as the “triple negative” type.
  • a family history of ovarian cancer.
  • a male relative with breast cancer.
  • breast cancer in both breasts, with the first cancer occurring before 50.
  • more than one relative with breast cancer before 50.
  • relatives with prostate cancer or pancreatic cancer before 55.
  • Jewish heritage.

Sounds like you or your family? Complete our Family History Questionnaire and discuss it with your doctor.

Many genetic tests are now Medicare funded. That means we can bulk bill your testing if you are eligible.

Ideally, genetic testing is performed in the person who had the cancer. Sometimes that is not possible, if, for example, the relative is deceased.

At Sydney Cancer Genetics you don't have to have had cancer to have a genetic test.

How much does self-funded genetic testing cost? Usually between $400 and $600 for a panel of genes associated with a particular cancer type. Much more affordable than a few years ago! Read More.