Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome (HBOC) is a genetic condition that makes it more likely that a person will get breast, ovarian, and other cancers. HBOC is due to a genetic mutation that is inherited within families. It is important for people to know about this condition.
What causes HBOC?
Most often, HBOC is caused by a mutation in one of two genes: BRCA1 (breast cancer 1 gene) and BRCA2 (breast cancer 2 gene). There are other gene mutations that can cause HBOC but this is much less common.
Is breast and ovarian cancer always hereditary?
No. In fact, only 3 out of every 100 breast cancers, and 10 of every ovarian cancers are caused by BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.
Why is it important for us to know about HBOC?
If you have a BRCA1 or BRCA 2 mutation, you have:
Up to a 65% risk of developing breast cancer by age 70
Up to a 39% risk of developing ovarian cancer by age 70
Increased risk of developing other cancers, such as prostate, pancreatic, and male breast cancer.
If you know that you have HBOC, you can take steps to reduce your cancer risk. This could include:
Having earlier, more frequent, and/or additional screening tests
Taking medications to reduce your cancer risk
Having preventive surgery to remove your breasts, ovaries, and Fallopian tubes
How is HBOC inherited?
HBOC can be passed down from either side of your family. The gene can be inherited from your mother or father and the person from whom you inherited the gene may not have cancer themselves. Although having the gene increases the risk of cancer, not all people with the gene will develop cancer.
- How do you know if HBOC might run in your family?
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that doctors screen women who have family members with breast, ovarian, tubal, or peritoneal cancer with one of several screening tools designed to identify families that are more likely to have a BRCA mutation.
Tell your doctor about your family history, especially if you have a personal or family history of any of the following:
Breast cancer at age 45 or younger in women
Breast cancer at age 46–50 or younger in women and at least one close blood relative with breast cancer at any age or limited family history
Triple negative breast cancer at age 60 or younger in women
Breast cancer at any age in men
Ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer
Cancer in both breasts
Pancreatic cancer or prostate cancer with Gleason score ≥7 (Gleason score is a measure of the grade of the cancer)
Breast, ovarian, pancreatic, or prostate cancer among multiple blood relatives
Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry
A known BRCA mutation in the family
How do you find out if you have HBOC?
If you have concerns about your family history or your personal health history, talk to your doctor about your options for genetic counseling or testing. Your doctor may recommend that you see a genetic counselor to learn more about genetic testing. They can help you to understand the benefits and risks of genetic testing for HBOC. If a family member who has had breast or ovarian cancer is still living, it is best if they are the first person to get genetic testing. If you or a family member are found to have a BRCA mutation, then other family members should consider genetic counseling and testing as well.
Use this link for more information:
If you have any questions about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome, please log into your account and send us your question. We are here to help.
Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor