Cancer in a family 

Cancer is a difficult illness, especially if the diagnosis is done when the disease is already advanced making the treatment difficult.

In a family, where a mother or a grandmother had breast cancer, there might be fears that the disease is hereditary and could come to affect their children in the future.

If that is your case, it is important to note than the large majority of breast cancer cases are NOT hereditary. Most cases are sporadic (or occasional) breast cancers.

Even in a family with 2 or more cases of breast cancer, these might be sporadic cases emerging in the same family by sheer coincidence. 

Only a very small number of families have familial cancer, this means that their members show a higher propensity to develop breast and/or ovarian cancer than the general population.

Among these, an even smaller small number has hereditary familial breast cancer. 

Learn more about these types of cancer in the section Cancer biology > Sporadic vs Familial .


Even if rare, when it occurs familial cancers carry serious implications for the future of a family and its members, especially if they are hereditary.

A woman with a change in the BRAC1 gene, for example, not only has a considerably high risk of developing breast cancer but also of passing it to her children causing high distress in the whole family.

So although these cases are rare, this section is especially for those dealing with the anxiety of a possible familial cancer.

In this section you will be able to better understand your family history (concerning breast or ovarian cancer), and build your own cancer history using our application.

You will also be able to understand what is a genetic test and what it is used for. However, the first step before any decision should be to discuss the test and its implications with your family doctor .

next close
Know… the leaflets on the side effects of breast cancer therapies: how to manage problems, such as nausea and vomiting, or hair loss. (see)
Know… the interactive "familial history", allows the construction of a graphic with the history of breast cancer in your family. (see)
Know… more about cancer biology: what is a mutation and what promotes these changes in cells DNA? (see)
Know… What is a triple negative cancer? Drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer? What is the anatomy of the breast? (see)
Know… what you know about familial breast cancer: complete our 7-question "expert " quiz. (see)
Know… more about sporadic breast cancer, and test your knowledge using our 7-question quiz. (see)
Know… the particularities of breast cancer in man: test your knowledge in our 7-question quiz (see)