Talking to your family about an increased risk of breast cancer

Choosing to share information with your family

If you have been told you have an increased risk of breast cancer, you may want to share this news with family and friends. It is your choice whether and when you share this information.

Bear in mind that your relatives may want to know what the news means for their own health too. If it’s estimated that you are more likely to develop breast cancer in the future than the average person, sharing this with your relatives might prompt them to think about their own risk too.

Top tips

People can react differently to new information about the health of a loved one, or their own risk. For tips on how to prepare for and have these conversations, watch our video:

Getting more advice

Your family history service or genetics service can give you advice on how to have discussions with family members and help you to plan this. Often, these services can provide a letter for you to pass on to family members, which provides the main points that may be important to them. There are also patient support organisations, such as the Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline, which can provide further advice or support for you.

Next steps for your relatives

If you have been told you have an increased risk of breast cancer, your relatives may want to look into their risk too. They will not necessarily all be at increased risk too – this will depend on whether they have also inherited an increased risk. The first step is often for them to see their GP and request a referral to specialist services. However, check with the clinic that you are receiving care from, as in some areas they may be able to see your relatives directly through a process known as ‘self-referral’.

Related information
Read our advice on getting the support and information you need.

Read more

Get advice on talking to relatives about the results of any genetic tests for breast cancer genes.

Read more

Find out more about how your risk will be assessed at a family history or genetics service.

Read more

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