Breast Cancer

One out every 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Of women who develop breast cancer only 5-10% are due to an inherited susceptibility.

Less than ½ of all families believed to have an inherited susceptibility to breast cancer are due to mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. A portion are due to mutations in other breast cancer susceptibility genes such as PALB2, ATM, CHEK2 etc. There are likely other breast cancer susceptibility genes which are yet to be discovered.

Risk factors for inherited breast cancer include:

  • Breast cancer diagnosed before the age of 50 (especially if there is a family history of other women with young breast cancers)
  • Multiple family members with breast cancer
  • Multiple primary breast cancer diagnoses
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Male breast cancer
  • Ashkenazi Jewish Ancestry (Eastern European Jewish Ancestry)
  • Prostate cancer (Gleason score greater than 7)
  • Pancreatic cancer

If you have a strong family history of breast, prostate, pancreatic or ovarian cancer, you should ask your doctor about a cancer risk assessment.


We do not inherit cancer – we can inherit an increased risk for cancer.