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Family history

BreastScreen Victoria is now collecting information about your family history of breast and ovarian cancer so we can provide you with better care.

You have a family history of breast cancer if any of your blood relatives have had a breast or ovarian cancer.

A small proportion – 1 in 100 – of women are at a potentially high risk of developing breast cancer based on their family history. It is important to remember that while breast cancer is common and largely associated with ageing, most breast cancers are not caused by genetic factors.

How does BreastScreen Victoria assess my risk?

When a woman books her screening appointment she is asked questions about her history of breast and ovarian cancer.

We use this information to estimate her personal level of risk of developing breast cancer which will be one of the following categories:

  • Average, where risk is similar to other women the same age. Women of this risk level have a 1 in 8 or lower chance of developing breast cancer.
  • Moderately increased, where women of this risk level may have between a 1 in 8 and 1 in 4 chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 75.
  • Potentially high, where women of this risk level have over 1 in 4 chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 75.

Women who may be at higher than average risk will be told what this means for them and what they should do next. Women who report family history but are at average risk, will be told in their result letter.

What should I do?

If you are concerned about your family history of breast cancer, we recommend you discuss your individual circumstances with your doctor.

BreastScreen Victoria estimates a woman's level of risk based on the information she provides us about her family history of breast and ovarian cancer. There are other risk factors for breast cancer that may decrease or increase a woman's level of risk.

Your doctor can use a familial risk assessment tool to provide a more complete assessment of your breast cancer risk. If there are any new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in your family it is important that you inform both BreastScreen Victoria and your doctor. You can contact us by calling 13 20 50 or emailing familyhistory@breastscreen.org.au

Other useful links - 

Cancer Council Information and Support Service: 13 11 20 (Call 13 14 50 for languages other than English)

Cancer Council Victoria: cancervic.org.au

Cancer Australia: canceraustralia.gov.au