Family history of breast cancer

If you have a history of breast cancer in your family and are worried you might be at increased risk of developing it yourself, you need to discuss this with your GP. If your GP feels that you might be at increased risk he or she will refer you to the generic breast clinic to be assessed.

You will be asked to complete a family history questionnaire, which will be discussed with you during your clinic appointment. You will also be given advice about breast awareness. At this stage some women will then be referred to Wessex clinical genetics services for further testing.

If you are assessed by clinical genetics to be at high risk, you will be offered an appointment at one of the regional genetics' clinics for advice, support, information about national studies, and early screening (mammograms or MRI between the ages of 40 and 50).

Currently women assessed as moderate risk can be offered early screening mammograms from the age of 40. Women assessed as population (normal) risk are not routinely offered early screening. However, all women between the ages of 50 to 70 are offered routine three-yearly screening as part of the National Health Breast Screening Programme.

Pilot study: younger women

Our breast screening unit is involved in a pilot study for younger women known to be at a high risk of developing breast cancer due to their family history.

The aim is to provide this service on a national level as part of the existing screening programme. As this is an ongoing study, the results are not yet available.