Is my sister more at risk?

I was dx last year age 44 with BC. Our Mum’s mum died from BC in her early sixties (mum from leukaemia in her late forties). Does this put my sister at increased risk of BC? I’m not sure how many family members/ages create an increased risk…


Hi Ali,
Sorry to hear of your diagnosis of breast cancer. Hope you are doing okay.
Obviously I am not an expert, but I have a brca1 mutation and no something about the risk matrices that are used. BCC produce a booklet (if anyone reading from BCC, can you put link on?).
Your mum’s diagnosis might be classed as ‘sporadic’ breast cancer as opposed to being as a result of an inherited mutation. These are rare and the blurb would state that as breast cancer is a ‘common’ cancer (1 in 8 women) it would not be too out of the ordinary to have first degree relative affected. Also, inherited mutations are associated with younger onset of breast cancer.
You rightly point out that your diagnosis of breast cancer would be taken into account in terms of assessing your sister’s risk. You don’t say how old she is, but she might be eligible for earlier screening.
If you are concerned about the possibility of having an inherited breast cancer, you or she can ask your GP for a referral to a Genetics Clinic. They will ask for a family history and assess risk- at the highest threshold, this would result in the offer of testing, but at the lower end, access to screening. In terms of assessing family history, they look at th incidence of breast and ovarian cancer in the family.
In addition, to the BCC Booklet, Breakthrough Breast Cancer produce a very thorough publication. If you are really interested, I can find link, but won’t be able to find it for a few days-?? This includes an outline of the way risk is determined.
Hope this helps.
Rattles x

Dear Ali_H

I have attached a link to our booklet on “Breast Cancer in Families” as mentioned by Rattles

You might also find it helpful to talk things over with one of our Helpliners. Opening times are 9-5 on weekdays and 10-2 on Saturdays. The number is 0808 800 6000

Very best wishes


BCC Moderator

Rattles and Janet, thank you very much. I’m encouraging her to go for a chat with our GP, but she doesn’t “want to waste anyone’s time” (her words, I don’t think anyone would consider it a waste of time) she’s 18 months younger than me. Maybe she’d feel easier ringing the helpline, I’ll suggest it to her.
And yes thank you Rattles, I’m doing well and feeling great. Last year was a rough one but this year is so much better! Hope you’re good too x

hi Ali

its usually if two first or second degree relatives affected under age 60… Or an averge age of 50… As mum died in late 40s its unknown if she would have developed bc or ovarian cancer herself… also if your own bc was triple hegative (neg for ER, PR and Her 2) or in both breasts then that could be a factor for a higher chance of it being genetic.

i think you or your sis asking fio a referral to genetics wouldnt be out if place… I doubt you would it the criteria for testing from what you have posted so far but your sister may be eligible or annual screening with mammography between 40-50.

lulu x

Hi Ali & everyone else,
We’re going through something similar at the moment. I was diagnosed June 27th and have since undergone a left mx as well as axillary clearance. As a result, my sister, who is 2yrs younger than me at 42 has been to see her GP to find out if she can be checked out. They have taken details of other family members, dad had colon cancer & aunt (on dads side) had lymphatic cancer, and now need to know what type of breast cancer I have been diagnosed with. This will then apparently tell them if she is at risk or not. The worst of it is, when she asked me, I couldn’t tell her outright. I know it’s grade 2, lobular (which I assume means its invasive(?) and pretty sure the consultant said its HER2-. Am currently in process of more scans, bone, CT (to check if its elsewhere as 8/22 nodes affected as well as largest lump of 5cm) & had MRI already. Did you have to have any of these done? When did you find out what type of BC it was? Will they only be able to tell me when all results are in? Don’t want to delay my sister getting any possible screening she might be eligible for simply because I don’t have this one piece of info.
Not sure if this still an issue for you, or if you can now offer me any advice.
Best wishes x

hi frenchfancy

they can find out the type of cancer from biopsy and surgery… yours is grade 2 lobular, her 2 negative from what you are saying.

the type of cancer that is more likely to be genetic is a type called triple negative which is negative for her2 and also neg for oestrogen and progesterone… you havent mentioned if you will be getting tamoxifen after chemo and if not this means it is likely to be triple negative… if you are going to get tamoxifen (or other hormone treatment) this means its not triple negaitive and has they same chance as anybody else with BC of it being genetic.

if you are the only person in your family to have breast cancer (colon cancer and lymphoma are not related to BC) or ovarian cancer then your sister wouldnt normally be considered at an increased risk and unlikely to be offeref early screening… (for testing she would only be offered that if you tested positive and you might not be considered high enough risk if hormone pos bc).

the other scans you are getting wont give more information about the type of cancer but can identify if it has spread furtehr than your breast and nodes… this is commonly done if you have anumbe rof lymph nodes affected… good luck with the results.

this is the ICR version of current screening guidelines for women with a family history… hope that helps…

genetic breast cancer is very uncommon… only around 5% of all bc is genetic… so you are much more likely just to have been bloody unlucky.

hugs and best wishes for your scans and treatment.

Lulu x

Hi Ali-H. I was diagnosed with IDC at 42yrs of age. Just had confirmation that they want to see me in geneitcs dept after completing screening questionaire. My mother has ovarian cancer, her aunt died of breast cancer aged 43 and her first cousin has had both breast and ovarian cancer. There is still a chance that it will screen negative so fingers crossed. I found the Royal marsden booklet on BRACA testing very informative - like anything, be careful what you google as you could convince yourself you are already dead! My sister has been advised she needs testing too by the genetics team, but my understanding is that they like to test a relative with a diagnosis firrst. The BRACA gene may possibly be related to bowl, skin and prostata cancers too - but less strongly than breast and ovarian. I don’t think that leukeamia is thought to be related. On one cancer site,the macmillan site I think, you can do a self administered screening test.
Good luck. x

My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at 32. My aunt had post menopausal breast cancer. Shortly afterwards I stated attending a family history clinic as my risk was increased to moderate. I was given regular check ups and mammograms throughout my late 30’s and to date. About 6 years ago I was diagnosed with dcis and had a lumpectomy and radiotherapy. This would not have been picked up without a mammogram as I had no lumps. Having said that maybe it would not have developed into invasive breast cancer. Last year (aged 49) despite clear mammograms a doctor at the unit I attend found a lump in my other breast during a routine clinical exam and I am currently continuing treatment for invasive breast cancer. The lump was 20mm and grade 2 so I’m guessing it had been there for perhaps years. Had I not attended a family history clinic none of this would’ve been discovered. Though I have mixed feelings about mammograms (no-one ever told me they missed 20% of tumours and may even cause mutations) I have no doubt getting early screening has possibly saved my life. My sister had the genetic test recently and does not have the identified genetic mutations but I am absolutely convinced they will find other genetic links in the near future.
My advice would be to persuade your sister to have her risk assessed and to take part in a screening programme of some sort if eligible.