Dr. Harness shares if breast cancer is a hereditary condition.
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Yes. Family history is important, particularly if it involves a first-degree relative, probably more on the mother’s side than on the father’s side. Now we only know of two genes right now, one is called BRCA-1, the other is called BRCA-2. They are associated with not only breast cancer but also with ovarian cancer. Those are the two most common. There are other rare categories that, where other cancers or other abnormalities that are involved, can be involved with breast cancer, but those numbers are teeny-tiny. What I commonly hear from patients is, “Gee, I didn’t have a family history of breast cancer; therefore, I didn’t think I needed to do my mammograms.” Well, greater than 85 percent of all new diagnoses of breast cancer don’t have a family history of breast cancer, but those who do have a family history of breast cancer need to be extra diligent, be screened on a regular basis, and if, and if necessary, be seen by a genetic counselor and potentially then be tested for the two genes that we know about right now.