Those with close relatives diagnosed with breast, ovarian, prostate or bowel cancer may be more at risk, although it is important to bear in mind that less than 15% of breast cancers are family history related. If you are concerned about a family history of breast cancer you should discuss this with your GP. Take as much information as you can about your blood relatives on both your mother’s and father’s sides of the family who have had a cancer diagnosis.
For each family member who has had cancer your GP needs to know:
What relation they are to you and to each other
Which cancer they had
How old they were when they had it
If they are still alive, or when they died
If they feel that your family history is significant they will refer you to a specialist family history clinic for further assessment. The Family History clinic will be able assess your family tree and identify if you may be at higher risk and examine you to decide what type of surveillance is best i.e. MRI, ultrasound or mammography- they will also see you every year if they feel it necessary. They will also be able to refer you to the genetics clinic as appropriate. Mammography isn’t as sensitive in younger women and therefore isn’t always the most appropriate test. Guidelines would suggest that mammography in women under 35 is not advised but at the clinic they will be able to do the test most appropriate for your individual circumstances. They also do an annual breast examination. These clinics are excellent and they are run at Belfast City, Ulster, Craigavon, Antrim & Altnagelvin Hospitals.
The biggest risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and getting older, so we recommend that every woman, regardless of family history, is breast aware & maintains a healthy lifestyle. If you would like to find out more about reducing your risks of developing cancer, check out our ‘reduce your risks’ page.
If you would like to ‘get healthy’, you can find out how we can help here
If you have, or are undergoing, genetic testing, our Support Services
may be of benefit to you.”
If you have or are undergoing genetic testing our support services may be of benefit to you.