Family history

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the UK. Many women have family members who have been diagnosed with the disease and are worried about their risks. Sometimes we are able to identify a woman as being at ‘high risk’ of breast cancer. We offer a specialised screening programme for these women.

Things to remember

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer for women in the UK, but most women will never get breast cancer. Most of the ladies who are diagnosed do not have a family history of breast cancer.

Your risk increases as you get older. For most women, getting older will be the biggest risk they have of breast cancer.

Some women can be identified as having a family history of breast cancer. The majority of women who do have a family history will not count as ‘high risk’ though.

Many women have at least one relative who has had breast cancer. This is because breast cancer affects so many people. For most women, a relative having breast cancer does not mean that they are at high risk.

Are you at an increased risk?

There are many complex factors which can affect a woman’s family risk of developing breast cancer. Risk is calculated based on several factors. These include which family members have had the disease and how old they were when they were diagnosed. For this reason, it is very important that we look closely at individual circumstances to calculate risk levels.

Worried about your risk?

If you are concerned that you may be at high risk of developing breast cancer, please visit your GP. Explain your concerns and why. If your doctor feels that you may be at risk, you will be referred on to the Regional Genetics Service or to one of our high risk screening clinics.

Download the booklet Breast Cancer in Families