What is a family history of breast cancer?
A family history of breast cancer means that one or more close relatives have had breast cancer at some stage in their lives. Women with a family history of breast cancer may have an increased risk of developing the disease themselves. However, for only a very small proportion of women does this result in a high risk. The level of risk for a woman is related to her relationship to the relative who has had breast cancer and the age at which that relative was diagnosed. Approximately 4% of the female population are considered to be at moderately increased risk by having: – a male or female first degree relative (i.e. a mother, father, sister or daughter) who has had breast cancer before the age of 50 years and/or – more than one first or second degree relative on the same side of the family who have had breast or ovarian cancer. Only for a very small proportion of women (less than 1%) is their family history so significant as to result in a potentially high risk of breast cancer compared