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Concerns about Breast Cancer Family History
Questions on genetics, family history & breast cancer.
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AskedPublicly Submitted Question
8/8/2017My mother and maternal grandmother both had breast cancer. Because of this, I was given information at a young age (early teens) regarding breast cancer, getting early screening, etc. Through the years, I've been told almost the exact same information by a number of doctors: to get a baseline mammogram at 30, then start getting annual ones at 35 due to the family history of breast cancer.

BUT, what has ALWAYS been confusing, and something I never could get a straight answer out of any of the doctors was regarding the conflicting information...

They want women who have a family history of breast cancer to get tested earlier and more often than women who don't. Yet the majority (over 75%) of breast cancer cases happen in women with no family history.

It would seem that the opposite should be true. That if most cases are in women without family history - THEY should be getting tested early and more often than women who do have a family history.

So why are women with family history told to be tested/screened earlier and more frequently when in theory, statistically, women with no family history will be more likely to get breast cancer? Why aren't they tested earlier/more often instead of women with family history?
RepliedJHU's Breast Center Reply
8/9/2017Just being a woman is the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer. Women with close relatives who've been diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher risk of developing the disease. Women with a family history make up a smaller group than the general population that's why a majority of the breast cancer cases are higher in the general population. To actually compare the two groups you need to look at the the number of breast cancer cases per the number in that population.

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