Launch of new guide to family history of breast cancer

The UK charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer has launched a definitive guide for people with an increased risk of developing breast cancer due to their family history.

The guide provides, for the first time, information on national standards for services and care for people who have a suspected or confirmed family history of breast cancer, in one single, accessible place. It combines expert advice from professionals as well as experiences from women with a family history of breast cancer. It allows both men and women to have a wider understanding of their risk of familial breast cancer and help them navigate the NHS services available to them.

A family history of breast cancer means having an unusually high number of close relatives with the disease or some other form of cancer, such as ovarian. Having a family history of breast cancer means that you may be more likely to develop the disease, and at a younger age, compared with the general population.

About 1 in 20 breast cancers are associated with inherited faults in breast cancer genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. People with these inherited faults tend to have a particularly strong family history of breast cancer. Generally speaking, a family history that may suggest a link to a faulty gene means having:

  • Two close family members (including, for example, mother, daughter, sister, grandmother or aunt) diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 50
  • Or three close family members under 60
  • Or four close family members of any age

The guide is available free from breakthrough.org.uk/publications