Families are special, and every family has its own collection of genes. Some people may end up with red hair or blue eyes, while others may have the perfect frame for swimming or football. Our genes can define so much about us, but they can also carry risks.
Let’s explore how you can check your family tree for signs of breast cancer and lead important discussions.
Why it is So Important to Discuss Breast Cancer Risk with Your Family
Breast cancer doesn’t just impact one person—it impacts families. Although anyone can develop breast cancer regardless of gender or age, the fact remains that genetics can play a part in who does and does not end up with this condition.
The best way to determine if you are at an elevated risk is to discuss the risk with your family.
Of the genetic cases of breast cancer, up to 25% are caused by the mutation of a specific gene. While we cannot always identify this gene, we can absolutely see it in action in our families. Studies have proven that you are at a higher risk of breast cancer if you inherit a mutated copy of a specific gene from either parent. A woman with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation has a 70% chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 80.
In total, up to 10% of cancers may be caused by genetic components.
Ways to Be Proactive About This Discussion
These simple steps can help you to discuss this difficult topic with your loved ones.
1. Ask Your Closest Relatives First
The best indication of breast cancer risk will often come from those who are closest to you genetically. This means it is always best to look a couple of ways in each direction in your family when discussing these risks. Find the right time to ask your parents, grandparents, and siblings about the potential for cancer in your family.
Remember, a woman’s risk for breast cancer rises if another woman on her mother or father’s side or if a first-degree male relative has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
2. Ask About Your Extended Family Next
Although a recent cancer scare in your close family will certainly tell you about your level of risk, it is important to remember that genes can skip generations or may not cause problems for some people. Taking time to discuss the health of your more extended family can also give you some clue about your own medical history or even open important discussions between you and loved ones.
When extended family is considered, 22% more people qualify for high-risk screening for breast cancer, a process that can save lives.
3. Discuss Other Kinds of Cancer or Risks in the Family
Breast cancer is a risk that impacts families, but it is also important to remember that any kind of cancer can be a red flag. Take time to explore your family’s medical history in detail, focusing on any type of cancer that may have an impact. Having certain types of cancers can actually place you at risk of developing a second type of cancer later.
Help Your Family Tree Thrive by Asking the Right Questions Early
We inherit so many amazing and beautiful things from our families, but heredity isn’t always that simple. Having open discussions with your family about breast cancer and cancer risk can help you to better understand your own body and whether or not you are at risk.
The best part? It can help your family to consider these facts too, allowing you all to work together to protect your collective health!
For more information on breast cancer and how you can look out for it, visit us at Kicked it in Heels!