The Program for Familial Breast and Ovarian Cancer
Heidelberg is one of the 15 Centers within the German Consortium for Familial Breast and Ovarian Cancer funded by the Deutsche Krebshilfe (German Cancer Aid). The Heidelberg Center comprises the Institute of Human Genetics, the Clinic for Gynecology and Obstetrics and the Psychosomatic Clinic.
- Is breast cancer hereditary?
- When is a more extensive consultation advisable?
- How can I find out if I am subject to an increased risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer ?
- More detailed information
Is breast cancer hereditary?
Breast cancer is the most frequent form of cancer in women. New forms of therapy, and especially better opportunities for early diagnosis, have improved the prospects of recovery.
In Germany approximately 40.000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed annually. On an average, every 10th woman gets breast cancer and this usually occurs after the age of 50.
Since it is a form of cancer which occurs relatively frequently, many women have relatives who are also affected by breast cancer. However, in most of these cases, this is coincidental. In approximately 5% of all cases breast cancer is caused by inherited mutations in certain genes (e. g. BRCA1- or BRCA2-genes) which can be passed on from one generation to the next. Carriers of these mutations are subject to a greater risk of getting breast cancer during their lifetime. In these cases breast cancer usually develops at an earlier age, i.e. before the age of 50.
When is a more extensive consultation advisable?
If you are afraid that there is an increased risk of breast cancer in your family due to genetic reasons, we will consult you (by appointment only).
Additionally we can offer you a molecular genetic diagnostic in the context of the Program for Familial Breast Cancer as well as Ovarian Cancer, if at least one of the following conditions is met:
- at least two women in the family (e. g. mother, sister, daughter or yourself) have breast or ovarian cancer, whereas at least one of the women was younger than 50 at the onset.
- one woman in the family (mother, sister, daughter or yourself) has cancer in one breast, whereas the onset was at the age of 30 or earlier.
- one woman in the family (mother, sister, daughter or yourself) has cancer in both breasts, whereas the onset was at the age of 40 or earlier.
- one woman in the family (mother, sister, daughter or yourself) has ovary cancer, whereas the onset was at the age of 40 or earlier.
- one woman in the family (mother, sister, daughter or yourself) has breast and ovarian cancer, whereas the onset was at the age of 40 or earlier.
- one male relative has breast cancer .
How can I find out if I am subject to an increased risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer?
You can contact one of our centers, where you will receive extensive counselling. In order to provide this, we require details of your family history, e.g.:
- Which of your relatives have or had cancer?
- Which form of cancer do or did your relatives have?
- How old were your relatives at the time of diagnosis?
- Are any of these relatives deceased and if so, at what age did this occur?
With this information we can estimate whether you have an increased risk of getting breast cancer. In those cases where a higher risk exists, we can offer you an even more extensive consultation which may also include a molecular genetic analysis of the BRCA1- and BRCA2-genes.