Health Watch — Breast Cancer: Increased Risks

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about breast cancer, in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Some women have a greater risk of breast cancer because they carry certain gene mutations. These mutations also raise their risk for ovarian cancer.

Women who have BCRA-1 or BCRA-2 gene mutations have a 90 percent risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer, while women without it have a 10 percent risk of developing breast cancer and a 2 percent risk for ovarian cancer. Dr. David Scott Miller, a gynecologic oncologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says this is why it’s important for a woman to know her family history of cancer. With a strong family history, there are tests that can be done to determine risk and to monitor for early cancer detection. In some cases, medication or preventative surgery may be recommended.

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October 2007

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