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Breast Fact or Fiction? I Don’t Have a Family History of Breast Cancer, Therefore I Don’t Need a Mammogram

Breast Fact or Fiction? I Don’t Have a Family History of Breast Cancer, Therefore I Don’t Need a Mammogram


But we can understand your confusion, so we’ll explain…

Only 10-15% of women with breast cancer have a family history of the disease. That little-known fact means a whopping majority of breast cancer patients are often surprised to discover they have it, because “no one in my family has!” So, another way…. more than 85% of women diagnosed have no family member(s) with a history of breast cancer.

Why is the myth so prevalent that breast cancers only run in families? Here’s the rub – if your family has breast cancer in it, then your risk rate increases compared to other women. This means that genetics can be a serious factor. But that’s just not the end of the story.

The rest of the story is this: your greatest risk factor for breast cancer is simply being a woman. One in eight women will get breast cancer in her lifetime, and all those women are not related to each other. We are sisters in the fight against breast cancer, but genetically, we are all ages and colors and sizes and shapes.

The belief that being from a cancer-free family means you can ignore a lump is one of the most troubling things we hear as diagnostic radiologists.

From this week’s myth-busting series, one of the most important things we want you to remember is that you’re not exempt from risk – but you are capable of changing the course of your breast health. You can do this by being both proactive (maintaining good health habits) and reactive (go see your medical care specialists if you suspect something is wrong). We want you to enjoy your best possible health, and that starts with knowledge.

Please perform regular self-exams, get your annual mammograms and know your risk. Family only has a small part in it.

This concludes our review of a few breast myths. Please share these posts with your friends (and family members!)- you might just save a life!



Originally published 8/2/13 on