My Mother Had Breast Cancer. Should I Get Tested for the Breast Cancer Gene?

Here's how to put your risks in perspective.

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Most breast cancer is not associated with an inherited predisposition, but it is normal to worry about your risk if your mother had the disease. Families with genetic, or inherited, breast cancer are usually characterized by multiple cases of early onset breast cancer occurring before age 50 and spanning multiple generations. If there are cases of male breast cancer, women with cancer in both breasts, or ovarian cancer in the family, the suspicion for a genetic cause of breast cancer increases. If a family meets these criteria, genetic counseling and testing are reasonable. When possible, we begin testing with a family member who has been affected with cancer.

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