If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may be worried about whether other members of your family will also develop the disease. A diagnosis of breast cancer does not mean that other members of your family will develop breast cancer.
Many women have someone in their family who has had breast cancer; this can happen by chance, as the disease is so common. Family history becomes more important when there are more relatives with breast cancer on the same side of the family, especially if the cancer occurs in a woman before 50 years of age. Most women will not develop breast cancer, even if they have a close relative with breast cancer.
Rarely, breast cancer can be caused by a fault in a gene, known as the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, which can be passed within families from one generation to another. These gene faults can be inherited from either the mother’s or the father’s side of the family. If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, your doctor may refer you for genetic testing at a specialist family cancer clinic.
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