Genomics and Health
Breast and Ovarian Cancer and Family History Risk Categories
This chart provides information about average, moderate and strong family histories of breast and ovarian cancer. This may help you understand if you have an increased risk for these cancers based on your family history.
Note: Not all families may be found in this table. If you have concerns about your family history of breast or ovarian cancer please talk to your doctor.
|Risk Category||Family History||Example||Effect on Cancer Risk||What You Can Do|
No first- or second-degree relatives with breast or ovarian cancer
|Grandmother with breast cancer diagnosed at age 75||Typically not increased, similar to the general population risk||
Genetic testing is not typically useful for
this type of family
Just one first-degree female relative with cancer of one breast (diagnosed at any age)
Mother with breast cancer diagnosed at age 68 and maternal aunt (mother’s sister) with breast cancer diagnosed at 62
|Somewhat higher than the general population risk, but most women from these types of families will not develop breast or ovarian cancer||
Genetic testing is unlikely to be useful for this type of family
One (or more) first- or second-degree relative(s) with:
Two or more first- or second-degree relatives with:
Three or more first- or second-degree relatives with breast cancer at any age.
Sister with breast cancer diagnosed at age 40, paternal aunt (father’s sister) with breast cancer diagnosed at age 45, paternal grandmother (father’s mother) with ovarian cancer
|Not all women in these families will develop breast or ovarian cancer, but risk is much higher than general population||
Genetic testing may be useful for this type of family. Learn more
Second-degree = aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents, grandchildren
For women of Jewish ancestry: Women who have a moderate family history but are of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry should talk with their health care provider about genetic counseling for cancer risk.
Keep reading to understand your risks for breast and ovarian cancer and whether genetic testing might be right for you:
- 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
The CDC Office of Public Health Genomics makes available the above information as a public service only. Providing this information does not constitute endorsement by the CDC. Note that some links may become invalid over time.