OPERA tool

Family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer? Check your risk

OPERA is an online information tool for people concerned about their inherited risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer.

Many people worry that they have a greater than average risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer because of their family history. In fact, it is quite rare to develop cancer because of an inherited faulty gene. Only 5-10% of cancers (or less than 10 out of 100 cases) are thought to be clearly linked to an inherited faulty gene (familial or hereditary cancer).

If someone in your family has had breast and/or ovarian cancer and you’re worried there may be an inherited genetic link, you can use OPERA, our online self-assessment tool, to help check your risk. OPERA asks you questions about your family history and provides personalised information and support in the comfort of your own home

Use OPERA to check your risk.

Please note that we do not intend this program to take the place of professional genetic counselling services. If you’re concerned about your genetic risk, you should consult your doctor.

Worried about breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK, making up almost 30% (3 in 10) of all cancers in women. About 1 in 9 women in the UK will develop breast cancer at some time in their life. This is the risk for all women in the general population. So, because breast cancer is relatively common, more than one woman in the family may develop it by chance. Approximately 300 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, so OPERA is designed for both male and female users.

You might find it helpful to see our section about genetics and breast cancer.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women in the UK. In the UK the lifetime risk of a woman developing cancer of the ovary is about 1 in 50, or 2%. Over 80% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are over 50, though it can occur in younger women.

Our section on genetics and ovarian cancer might also be helpful.

Worried about ovarian cancer?

The general population risk for women in the UK of 1 in 9 for breast cancer and 1 in 50 for ovarian cancer might be increased for some women with a strong family history of either or both of these cancers. OPERA is designed to give personalised information about this risk based on the user's individual family history details.

We have more information about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of ovarian and breast cancer.

Back to Genetic testing and counselling

Inherited cancers

If a cancer occurs more often in a family than in the general population, some people in the family may have inherited a cancer susceptibility gene.

Inherited cancers: bowel cancer

A small number of bowel cancer cases are linked to genetic conditions, which run in families.

Inherited cancers: breast and ovarian cancer

Some cases of breast cancer are linked to breast cancer genes, which can run in families.

Inherited cancers: prostate cancer

Some cases of prostate cancer are linked to certain inherited cancer genes, which can run in families.

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is a condition that can run in families. Untreated FAP can increase the risk of bowel cancer.

Lynch syndrome

Lynch syndrome (LS) is a condition that can run in families. It increases the risk of bowel, womb and some other cancers.

Genetic counselling

A genetic consultation is a discussion with a person trained in genetics. They will advise you on your risk of developing cancer.

Genetic testing

You will only be offered genetic testing if your family history suggests you may have inherited an identified faulty gene.

Things to consider before having a genetic test

Before deciding to have a genetic test, think about how you might feel if you do have a gene change that increases your risk of cancer.

Coping with a high risk of cancer

Knowing you have an increased risk of cancer can be difficult. There are options for managing the risk and getting support.