InheritedRISK.com Inherited Risk of Cancer
Breast and Ovarian Cancer
Could I Inherit a Risk?
Taking Preventive Action
Resources
FAQs
Professional Resources
Cancer risk assessment, risk factors, and risk management options may differ for people with hereditary
cancer risk.
— FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, Inc

Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Breast and ovarian cancer are topics of concern for all women—regardless of their family history. In 2008, the American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 184,000 new cases of breast cancer and approximately 21,650 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed. About 10 percent of these cases are hereditary.

Below you'll find information on breast and ovarian cancer, including sections on:

Back to Top

Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Fast Facts

Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome:

For more about HBOC, see HBOC 101

The BRCA Mutation Increases Your Risk of Cancer...

The BRCA Mutation Increases Your Risk of Cancer...

...But Proactive Cancer Management Can Reduce the Risk

Preventive Measure Preventive Measure

See Tamoxifen, Mastectomy, or Oophorectomy in our Glossary.

A test can help confirm if you have hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome.

If you do have hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome, you can:

Back to Top

Breast Cancer Basics

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008, more than 182,000 US women - and about 2,000 US men - will, be diagnosed with breast cancer. Approximately 40,500 US women - and about 450 US men - will die from breast cancer in 2008. Not counting certain skin cancers, in the United States:

Because it is always better to discover a cancer early, and because many women do not have any warning signs or symptoms, it is important to undergo regular screening for breast cancer.

Back to Top

Ovarian Cancer Basics

While it is much less common than breast cancer, ovarian cancer is more difficult to find at an early stage. According to the Mayo Clinic, only about 20 percent of ovarian cancers are found before the cancer has spread.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008, there will be approximately 21,650 new cases of ovarian cancer and approximately 15,500 women will die from ovarian cancer.

In the United States:

According to the first national agreement on ovarian cancer symptoms (2007), women at risk for ovarian cancer should see their gynecologist if any of the following symptoms persist most days for more than a few weeks:

Back to Top

Breast and Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors

For breast cancer and ovarian cancer, age, environment, and lifestyle can affect a person's risk. An individual's risk factors may include:

Breast Cancer Ovarian Cancer
Age (most women who develop breast cancer are over 50) Age (most women who develop ovarian cancer do so after menopause). Risk increases with age into the late 70s.
Having had breast cancer already
Exposure to radiation, especially during adolescence
Being overweight Being overweight in early adulthood
Early puberty, especially with menstruation before age 12 Infertility
Late menopause, especially after age 55
First pregnancy after age 30 or never becoming pregnant Never becoming pregnant
Having treated menopause symptoms with hormone therapy Having treated menopause symptoms with hormone therapy
Using or having used birth control pills* Not using birth control pills*
Smoking
Drinking more than one alcoholic beverage daily
Breast density as shown on mammograms
Precancerous changes in a breast Ovarian cysts that develop after menopause
Hereditary Risk Factors
Race and heritage, especially for women of Ashkenazi, or Eastern European Jewish, ancestry Race and heritage, especially for women of Ashkenazi , or Eastern European Jewish, ancestry
Family history of breast or ovarian cancer, especially in a first-degree relative Family history of breast or ovarian cancer, especially in a first-degree relative
Inherited gene mutations known to contribute to breast cancer risk Inherited gene mutations known to contribute to breast cancer risk
*
See the National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet on oral contraceptives for more

Back to Top

How Heredity Can Put You at Risk

Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome is an inherited condition that causes an increased risk of developing these cancers, often before the age of 50. Research shows that about 10% of breast and ovarian cancer is due to an alteration in one of 2 genes—BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genes can come from either your mother or your father.

For more about HBOC Risk Factors, see Inherited Risk.

Back to Top

Breast and Ovarian Cancer Risk

If You Have NOT Had Breast
or Ovarian Cancer:
BRCA Mutation
Carrier
General Population
Breast cancer by age 50 33%-50% 2%
Breast cancer by age 70 56%-87% 7%
Ovarian cancer by age 70 27%-44% <2%
Male breast cancer by age 70 6% .05%
If You HAVE Had Breast
or Ovarian Cancer:
BRCA Mutation
Carrier
General Population
Ovarian cancer 15% not available
Breast cancer after 5 years 27% 3.5%
Breast cancer by age 70 64% 11%
Other Cancer Risks:* BRCA Mutation
Carrier
General Population
Prostate cancer by age 80 20% 15%
Pancreatic cancer by age 80 2%-4% <1%
*
Less information is available about the risks of these and other cancers than about breast and ovarian cancers.

Check My HBOC Risk

Back to Top

Birthday with my girls
HBOCFACT
About 1 in 500 people carry BRCA gene mutations. The chance of having a mutation increases if breast or ovarian cancer run in the family.