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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
Average

No first- or second-degree relatives with breast or ovarian cancer


or


Just one second-degree female relative with cancer of one breast diagnosed after age 50

Grandmother with breast cancer diagnosed at age 75 Typically not increased, similar to  the general population risk
  • Mammograms or other breast exams (learn more)
  • Make choices to reduce your risk (learn more)
  • Discuss any concerns with your health care provider


Genetic testing is not typically useful for
this type of family
Moderate

Just one first-degree female relative with cancer of one breast (diagnosed at any age)


or


Two first- or second-degree relatives (female) with cancer of one breast diagnosed after age 50


or


Just one first- or second-degree relative with ovarian cancer

Mother with breast cancer diagnosed at age 68 and maternal aunt (mother’s sister) with breast cancer diagnosed at 62


or


Sister with ovarian cancer

Somewhat higher than the general population risk, but most women from these types of families will not develop breast or ovarian cancer
    Taking action may be of greater benefit for women with a moderate vs. average risk family history.
  • Mammograms or other breast exams (learn more)
  • Make choices to reduce your risk (learn more)
  • Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider


Genetic testing is unlikely to be useful for this type of family

Exception for families of Jewish ancestry

Strong

One (or more) first- or second-degree relative(s) with:

  • Primary cancer of both breasts
  • Both breast and ovarian cancer in the same relative
  • Male breast cancer

or

Two or more first- or second-degree relatives with:

  • Breast cancer, if at least one breast cancer was diagnosed before age 50.
  • Breast and ovarian cancer in different relatives.
  • Ovarian cancer, diagnosed at any age.

or

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
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about genetic counseling for cancer risk


Genetic testing may be useful for this type of family. Learn more

 

First-degree = parents, brothers, sisters, children

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:



Related Resources

 

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.

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