Breast Cancer 101

Understanding the Impact of Family History on Breast Cancer Risk

Family History Information

Breast cancer is a serious health concern for women and one of the most common cancers in the world. While there are several risk factors associated with breast cancer, having a family history of the disease is a significant one that can increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer. In this article, we will discuss the impact of family history on breast cancer risk and the importance of seeking additional breast screening for women with a strong family history of the disease.

Why Does Breast Cancer Family History Matter?

The family health history of a patient is an essential aspect of medical history as it provides valuable information about the patient’s health risks. Family members often share genetic material, lifestyles, and behaviors that can increase the likelihood of developing certain health conditions and diseases, including breast cancer. Having a detailed family history of a patient can help healthcare providers to determine the patient’s risk of developing breast cancer and other health conditions.

What Should a Patient’s Family Health History Include?

To obtain a complete family health history, a patient should provide information on biological relatives dating back three generations. This record should include a history of past and present health conditions with which family members have been diagnosed, ages at the time of diagnosis, and ages at their time of death, including causes of death. With this information, healthcare providers can assess a patient’s risk of developing breast cancer and other health conditions.

Breast Cancer Family History

A woman’s risk of developing breast cancer increases if she has biological relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of developing breast cancer doubles for a woman who has a single immediate relative, such as a sister or mother, diagnosed with the disease. The risk triples for women who have two immediate relatives diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition, women with a family history of other cancers, such as ovarian cancer or male breast cancer, may also be at increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Additional Breast Screening for Women with a Family History of Breast Cancer

Due to the increased risk associated with a family history of breast cancer, certain women should seek additional breast screening to supplement routine mammography. The American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommend that women with strong family histories of breast cancer begin routine breast screening at age 30. Breast screening recommendations for these women include clinical breast exams every six to 12 months, annual screening mammography, and annual breast MRI.


A family history of breast cancer can significantly impact a woman’s risk of developing the disease. By understanding the importance of family history in assessing breast cancer risk, women can take proactive steps towards early detection and treatment. Women with a strong family history of breast cancer should discuss additional breast screening options with their healthcare providers to ensure optimal breast health.

Breast Cancer Risk Assessment at Breastlink

At Breastlink, we believe knowledge is power. We want to help you better understand your personal risk for developing breast cancer, so that you can make the best lifestyle choices and health care decisions to promote your breast health.

Our comprehensive risk assessment program is designed to provide you knowledge of your personal risk factors and is covered by most insurance plans. Visit our Risk Assessment Program.



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