The Basics on Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Each year, over 200,000 women in the United States learn that they have breast cancer and more than 20,000 find out that they have ovarian cancer. While most of these cancers happen by chance, some are hereditary, meaning that they are caused by genetic changes (called mutations) which are passed down in families.

Effective medical options are available for women at risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer that can make them less likely to get these cancers. Because of this, all women should learn about their family health history of breast and ovarian cancer to know if they could be at risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

The first step to find out if you are at risk is to collect your family health history of breast and ovarian cancer and share this information with your doctor. If your family health history shows that you could be at risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, your doctor may refer you for genetic counseling and genetic testing.