Risk-reducing breast surgery and family history
National UK guidance on familial breast cancer (breast cancer that runs in families) says that surgery to reduce the risk of breast cancer is only appropriate for a small number of women
These women are from families that have a very high risk of developing breast cancer.
You may wish to think about having this type of surgery if you have:
a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer – especially if breast cancer was diagnosed among several close blood relatives on the same side of the family (such as grandmother, mother or sisters) and before the age of 50
had a positive test for any of the main gene mutations (changes) that are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer – BRCA1 or BRCA2, or the rarer TP53 or PTEN
already had breast cancer and have a high risk of developing it in the other breast.
You may find it helpful to read our information on cancer genetics, which explains how specific genes are sometimes involved in the development of certain cancers. It also describes the support and information you can get from your local family cancer clinic.
At your local family cancer clinic a clinical geneticist or genetic counsellor will be able to discuss your risk of developing breast cancer. They can also talk about ways in which you may be able to reduce or manage this risk.
The decision whether or not to have risk-reducing breast surgery is a highly personal one – no two women are exactly the same and every woman’s situation is unique.