Cancer and Women

Learn your family history of cancer and what you can do to lower your cancer risk.

Jackie has a family history of cancer. Several relatives on her father’s side of the family had breast or ovarian cancer at an early age. Her doctor encouraged her to see a genetic counselor.

“I was like, ‘I don’t want to know. I’m not taking this test,’” Jackie said. “I thought about it. I could lose my daughter and not be here for her. I took the test.

“I found out that I was BRCA 1 positive,” Jackie says. “The genetic counselor laid out a couple of options for me. I decided to have my ovaries removed.

“At first it was very scary, but it became empowering. [Cancer] doesn’t have to be my destiny. I’m going to watch my kid grow up!”

Do You Know Your Family History of Cancer?

Jackie was able to take steps to lower her cancer risk because she knew cancer runs in her family. If you have a family history of breast, ovarian, uterine, or colorectal cancer, you may have a higher risk of getting cancer yourself.

Do you know if cancer runs in your family? Family gatherings like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, family reunions, and holidays are good opportunities to find out. When you get together with relatives, try to find some time to ask—respectfully—about family members’ cancer history. If you have had cancer, share your own story.

Other Tips for Lowering Your Chance of Getting Cancer

You can do several things to lower the chances that you’ll get cancer. Some of the most important are—

Fast Facts About Cancer and Women

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