Debunking the Myth about Hereditary Breast Cancer

Many people assume that breast cancer runs in the family and is hereditary since it is often discussed as a genetic disease. However, the truth is that the majority of breast cancer cases are not inherited. In fact, roughly 90% of breast cancer cases occur due to genetic mutations that are acquired through life. While it is essential to have preventative screenings, a family history of breast cancer does not mean you will get it too. Here, we will address the question, "Do all breast cancers run in the family? Are they hereditary?"

In some cases, breast cancer may indeed run in the family due to genetic mutations in some genes that increase the chances of developing breast cancer. Inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes increase the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer from the usual 12% to 60%. Other lesser-known genes that can raise the risk of breast cancer include TP53, CHEK2, ATM, and PALB2. However, these genetic mutations are relatively rare and account for only 5 to10% of all breast cancer cases.

Moreover, some families may have a history of breast cancer due to shared lifestyle risk factors such as not exercising, smoking, drinking alcohol, or having a poor diet. These habits can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of cancer. Women who have breast cancer at a young age, have had cancer in both breasts, or have other family members diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, should consider genetic testing to identify whether they possess any of these specific mutations and understand how to prevent cancer risk.

It is crucial to note that having a family history of breast cancer does not mean you will undoubtedly develop breast cancer. It is vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle and get screened regularly to detect and treat any potential cases of breast cancer early. Regular mammograms are the best way to ensure early detection. Women between the ages of 40 to 54 should receive mammograms annually to screen for breast cancer, and after the age of 55, mammograms should be conducted every two years.

Breast cancer may be genetic in some cases, but it is not hereditary in the majority of cases. Only about 5 to 10% of cases are caused by inherited genetic mutations. Therefore, having a family history of breast cancer does not mean you are guaranteed to develop it, but it may increase your risk of getting it. Whether or not breast cancer runs in your family, it is still essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle and practice preventative care. Speak to your doctor about your risk level and stay ahead of the disease through regular screening and other preventative measures. By taking the necessary steps, you can stay well-informed about your health and focus on prevention in the fight against breast cancer.