Health Watch - Breast Cancer: Genetic Concerns

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’ve been talking about breast cancer, in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Early detection remains the best first step toward fighting breast cancer, and that means women with a stronger risk must be even more vigilant.

One of the biggest risk factors for breast cancer is a close relative who’s had breast cancer. Women who have a particular genetic mutation have a 90 percent chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer. Dr. David Scott Miller, a gynecologic oncologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says that while this statistic is alarming, there are things women can do to manage their risk. First, they need to know their family medical history, and if family members have had breast cancer, women need to talk to their doctor about genetic counseling and testing. If a test does reveal the key genetic mutations, women may be monitored more intensely with regular mammograms and exams. Medication and preventive surgery may be other options.

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October 2010


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