- tobacco and alcohol use
There are also some cancer risk factors you can’t control, such as those
Learn more about HBOC syndrome and the inherited genes that increase your risk for cancer, as well as how to reduce your risk of developing HBOC.
In this article, we talk about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome in people who are assigned female at birth. It’s important to note that not everyone assigned female at birth identifies with the label “woman.”
While we aim to create content that includes and reflects the diversity of our readers, specificity is key when reporting on research participants and clinical findings. Unfortunately, the studies and statistics referenced in this article did not include data on, or include, participants who were transgender, nonbinary, transgender, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or genderless.
Cancer itself develops when genes mutate. However,
While the exact statistics aren’t known, it’s estimated that 1 out of every 400 to 800 people may have HBOC syndrome.
You may also be at a greater risk of HBOC
Additionally, BRCA gene mutations
Overall, inherited family cancer syndromes account for
However, if you or a family member has HBOC syndrome, this means you may have abnormal gene changes that
According to the
Additionally, having HBOC syndrome may
- cervical cancer
- fallopian tube cancer
- pancreatic cancer
- primary peritoneal cancer
- prostate cancer
The exact percentages also vary by gene, as follows:
|BRCA1 mutation||BRCA2 mutation||General population|
|breast cancer (in women)||46 to 87%||38 to 84%||12%|
|breast cancer (in men)||1.2%||8.9%||0.1%|
|ovarian cancer||39 to 63%||16.5 to 27%||1 to 2%|
|pancreatic cancer||1 to 3%||2 to 7%||0.5%|
|prostate cancer||8.9% (before age 65)||15% (before age 65)||6% (before age 69), with 20 to 25% lifetime risk|
Anyone who is
HBOC syndrome is identified through genetic testing. This is the only way to determine whether you have genetic mutations that increase your risk for certain cancers. Having this information can help you determine your next steps for risk reduction.
If you’re not sure if HBOC syndrome runs in your family, consider asking your doctor for a referral to genetic counseling, particularly if any of the
- cancers that have occurred in multiple generations of your family
- personal or family history of multiple types of cancer (such as both breast and ovarian cancers in one person)
- cancer that affects both organs, including breast cancers affecting both breasts
- history of cancer occurring at a younger age than usual
Also, if you have a history of HBOC, it may be a good idea to get tested to understand whether you carry genetic mutations, and if there’s a risk of passing them on to children.
While having HBOC syndrome doesn’t mean you will definitely develop cancer, it’s important to consider ways you may reduce your individual risk. Options
- risk-reducing mastectomy (RRM) for breast cancer prevention (also called a prophylactic, or preventive, mastectomy)
- risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (RSO) which removes ovaries and fallopian tubes for ovarian cancer prevention
- chemoprevention, which may involve oral contraceptives to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer or taking tamoxifen, an anti-estrogen treatment to reduce breast cancer cell growth
Your doctor will also likely recommend more frequent testing at a younger age compared with someone who doesn’t have HBOC syndrome. This may include imaging tests, such as mammograms for breast cancer or transvaginal ultrasound for ovarian cancer.
Also, while you can’t change your age or the genes that may increase your risk of cancer development, you can take certain steps, called “
Protective factors against cancer risk
- maintaining a healthy weight
- reducing your exposure to chemicals
- quitting smoking, and avoiding secondhand smoke
- eating a healthy diet
- reducing chronic inflammation
- decreased consumption or avoidance of alcohol
- avoiding long-term exposure to female hormones or immunosuppressants
HBOC syndrome can be passed down
Still, even if you have HBOC, research shows that you may decrease your risk of developing related cancers by reducing environmental and behavioral exposure.
Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about any genetic and acquired risk factors you may have.
HBOC syndrome is caused by inherited genetic mutations that run in families. Having this syndrome may increase your risk for breast and ovarian cancers, as well as other types of cancer, such as those of the prostate and pancreas.
If breast and ovarian cancers run in your family, it may be worth considering genetic testing to determine if you carry genetic mutations that increase your risk of developing these cancers.
While you can’t change your genes, knowing this information can help determine how often and when you should be screened for certain cancers. You can also talk with your doctor about cancer risk factors you may control, such as weight management, smoking, and alcohol use.