Breast cancer is very common and in most cases is not due to any genetic reasons. However if you have a lot of cases of breast cancer and/or some other cancers (such as ovarian and prostate cancer) in your family, particularly if they have occurred in people at a young age, your GP or another Specialist may refer you to the Family History Clinic. Prior to any appointment you will be asked to complete and return a detailed questionnaire about your family.
Following analysis of this questionnaire, women considered to be at low risk of developing breast cancer will be reassured that they do not need an appointment for screening. Women considered to be at increased risk of breast cancer will be invited for an appointment if they have reached the age at which extra screening would start (usually 40). If you are under the age of 40 and felt to be at a moderate increased risk of breast cancer you may receive a letter informing you of this and asking that your GP send you back to start your mammograms once you have reached 40. This is to avoid you travelling to see us unnecessarily, but if you would like a face-face appointment in this situation you are welcome to make one.
At the clinic you will have the opportunity to talk to a breast specialist about your family history and your breast cancer risks and options.
Your chance of developing breast cancer based on your family history will be explained.
The need for organising regular mammograms (X-ray examinations of the breast) will also be discussed and will be arranged through the clinic but will not take place at your first visit. Occasionally we may recommend MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
If appropriate you will be referred to a Genetics clinic. Only a small minority of people with a very strong family history of breast cancer are likely to have an altered gene leading to an increased risk of breast cancer. Very few women referred to the genetics clinic meet the criteria to be offered a genetic test (a blood test which may be used to help predict the risk of developing breast cancer).Please click here to download our patient information leaflet on Family History Screening Service.