The paradoxical role of family history in breast cancer risk


San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium 2017

San Antonio, Texas, United States | December 05-09, 2017


Although family history can influence a patient’s risk of developing breast cancer, it does not increase that risk once other risk factors are identified. 


“Family history can have somewhat of a paradoxical role when we look at women who have a family history and who also have one of these high-risk lesions, such as atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ,” says Amy C. Degnim, MD, professor of surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.


When considering the bigger picture, individuals with a “strong family history” of breast cancer are at increased risk of developing disease. However, once the individual is diagnosed with one of the aforementioned lesions, this family history “may not further impact their risk, unless their family history is so strong, that they undergo genetic testing and are found to have a mutation in one of these inherited genes that dramatically increases their risk.”


Family history also plays a role in breast cancer development in male patients.