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Is Breast Cancer Hereditary?

Breast cancer is not always caused by genetic factors. In fact, there is a large majority of cases associated with mutations in the cells, developed within a person's lifetime. 

However, there is a small percentage of breast cancer patients who develop the disease because of their genetic predispositions. Mutations in both BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can be inherited, which will increase a person's chances of developing breast cancer. But not everyone who inherits these mutations will develop the disease.

Breast cancer is more common in women than in men, but men can also inherit BRCA mutations. This means men can also be at risk of developing breast cancer and can pass on the mutated genes to their children. 

If you have these genetic mutations or a strong family history of breast cancer, it is recommended to receive a breast MRI and a mammogram every year, even when you are young.

Screening for breast cancer early and often can help catch the disease at an early stage, which will increase your chances of survival. 

Inherited breast cancer is caused by two abnormal genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, also known as breast cancer gene one and breast cancer gene two. These genes are normally present in everyone. However, when there are abnormalities, there is also a risk of breast cancer. Approximately five to ten percent of breast cancer cases are inherited or caused by gene mutations passed down from the parent to the child. 

You are more likely to have an abnormal breast cancer gene if:

  • Any of your relatives suffer from triple-negative breast cancer condition.
  • Any woman in your family has had the cancer in both of their breasts.
  • Your mother, aunt, grandmother or sister, on either side of your family, suffered from breast cancer before they were 50 years old. 
  • You have an abnormal breast cancer gene.
  • You have a family history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer on the same side of your family.
  • You have a heritage of Ashkenazi Jewish or Eastern European.
  • There is a man in your family who suffers from breast cancer.