Breast and Ovarian Cancer and Family Health History
This website is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. About 7 out of 100 women (or 7%) will get breast cancer by age 70; about 1 out of 100 women (or 1%) will get ovarian cancer by age 70. While ovarian cancer is less common, it is much harder to detect and often more serious. Most breast and ovarian cancers occur in women after the age of 50. Learn more about breast cancer and ovarian cancer .
The Importance of Family Health History
Family health history is an important factor affecting a woman’s risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer. Every woman should be aware of these cancers in her family. In general, the more close relatives who have had breast or ovarian cancer, and the earlier their ages of diagnosis, the greater a woman’s risk. Close relatives include parents, sisters, brothers, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.
Family History Risk Categories of Women
in the General Population
[A text description of the graph is also available.]
The majority of women in the general population have family histories that mean they are at average risk. Some women with breast or ovarian cancer in their families will have a somewhat increased or moderate risk. Only about 2% of women will have a family history that is considered strong. In some families with a strong history, genetic testing may be helpful.
To understand if you could have an increased risk for breast or ovarian cancer based on your family health history, see family history risk categories for more information.
Read quick facts about Breast and Ovarian Cancer and Family Health History.
Keep reading to understand your risks for breast and ovarian cancer and whether genetic testing might be right for you:
- Family History Risk Categories
- Genetic Testing Information and Recommendations Based on Family History
- Genetic Counseling and Evaluation for <em>BRCA1/2</em> Testing
- Quick Facts about Family Health History, BRCA1/2 Genes, and Genetic Testing
- CDC Know:BRCA information and tools for women and clinicians
- General breast cancer information, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- General ovarian cancer information, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Understanding Cancer Series: Gene Testing, National Cancer Institute, NIH
- BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing, National Cancer Institute, NIH
- Cancer Genetics Services Directory, National Cancer Institute, NIH
- Genetics Clinic Directory, National Center for Biotechnology Information, NIH
- Find a genetic counselor, National Society of Genetic Counselors
- My Family Health Portrait — A Tool From the U.S. Surgeon General
- Page last reviewed: June 17, 2014 (archived document)
- Content source: