Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer
What is HBOC?
Individuals with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are born with a genetic predisposition that increases their chance for cancer, particularly breast and ovarian, and at a younger age. This is caused by a genetic mutation in their DNA that has been passed down through the generations, and may be passed to their children by either parent.
Am I at risk?
What to look for: ■ Multiple individuals on the same side of your family with breast and/or ovarian cancer ■ Individuals with breast cancer in both breasts ■ Breast and ovarian cancer in the same individual ■ Individuals with breast cancer at age 40 or younger ■ Individuals with breast cancer that is 'triple negative' at 50 or younger ■ Breast or ovarian cancer in a families with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage ■ Men with breast cancer ■ Confirmed genetic mutation anywhere in your family.
How do I get tested?
Talk to your doctor about your suspicions and ask for a referral to the local genetics clinic where they will do a complete review of your background. Testing is only possible if there is a living cancer survivor in the family and this individual is willing to participate. If their results are confirmed for a mutation you will be given a blood or saliva test. If there are no living survivors you still may be deemed as high risk based on your background.
I have it. What now?
If you have a confirmed genetic mutation others in your family may also. Talk to them about getting tested. Become more informed. Talk to your doctor about your options for risk reduction which may include regular screening, lifestyle management, preventative therapies and/or preventative surgeries. Explore this site and others. Get connected to others in your situation. You are not alone!
There is a flurry of activity surrounding Angelina Jolie's decision to have a preventative double mastectomy after she became aware she is an HBOC genetic mutation carrier. We hope this site answers some of your questions, but it is important to have your personal risk assessed by a professional. PLEASE NOTE, we are hosting a national educational conference in Edmonton, September 20 & 21 that will feature the most updated, leading-edge information for the medical professional and layperson alike.
"For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices." -- Angelina Jolie