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How Family History Affects Your Risk for Breast Cancer

By Dr. Daemon Jones Expert HERWriter
 
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family history has an effect on your breast cancer risk
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Do you have a family history of breast cancer, or any type of cancer? If your answer is yes you have a higher risk factor for developing breast cancer.

When we are talking about a family history, usually we mean immediate family. The immediate family refers to your mother, or sisters, or grandmothers. If these members of your family have had breast cancer it's considered a hereditary factor.

The hereditary factors refer to your genes, or your DNA. If a gene mutation is found in immediate family members, it's possible that you may also have the same mutation.

The mutation that has the highest possibility of creating breast cancer cells in your body are the BRCA1 and BRCA2.

In a person that does not have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation -- in other words in someone who has a normal BRCA1 or BRCA2 -- the main function of the genes are to protect the body from creating cancer in the body.

These cells produce proteins that prevent the cells from growing abnormally.

According to the National Cancer Institute the definition of cancer is used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues.

The mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene causes them to allow cells to grow abnormally instead of protecting the cells.

If you inherit the mutated BRCA genes from either parent you will have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. In some families the risk can be as high as 80 percent.

Women with these genes tend to be diagnosed with cancer at a younger age and they also tend to develop cancer in both breasts instead of one breast. While the BRCA mutation gene can be found in all ethnic groups it is found in higher numbers in Jewish women of Eastern European descent.

Genetic testing is available for women that want to be tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2. However getting testing is a big commitment, which will alter your life no matter what the outcome.

It is important to talk to your doctor about all the pros and cons before you proceed with genetic testing. Breast cancer awareness is important and understanding the next steps in the process is important too.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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