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About five to 10 percent of breast cancer is hereditary and passed through families.

A genetic counselor can provide a detailed risk assessment of your personal and family history. After reviewing this history, he or she may recommend genetic testing for one or more cancer predisposition syndromes such as Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (caused by mutations in the BRCA1/2 genes). If you are found to carry a mutation in a gene associated with a cancer predisposition syndrome, you and your medical team can work together to form a more personalized treatment and management plan.

Genetic testing is recommended when one or more of the following apply:

  • A person is diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 50.
  • Breast cancer occurs in someone in the family prior to age 50.
  • Breast cancer occurs in more than one person in the family.
  • Breast cancer is associated with other cancers in the family, such as ovarian, pancreatic, uterine, or thyroid.
  • Breast cancer is associated with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry (Jewish with ancestors from Eastern Europe, usually Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Russia).
  • Breast cancer occurs in a male family member.

Genetic counseling and testing FAQs.