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UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital
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Risk of Breast Cancer in Daughters

As a group, daughters of women with breast cancer are at increased risk of sometime developing breast cancer. Actually, only a few daughters are at very high risk and the rest are at nearly the same risk as the general public. Risk increases if the mother developed breast cancer before menopause, had breast cancer in both breasts, and/or had the combination of ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
 
There are several genes related to breast cancer risk; only some of these can be identified with testing. This is an area of very active research and within the next several years more extensive tests will be available. There are potential hidden risks in screening such as future ability to get health or life insurance, guilt, etc. Discuss all aspects of screening with a professional before you decide about it. In general, children are not screened for diseases that only appear after adulthood. When they are adults, they can decide if they want to be tested.
 
It is very important that all daughters with breast development learn to correctly perform a self-breast examination. Be sure that your daughter learns it by the time she get out of high school. There are pamphlets and tapes that can provide her with the basics. Then it is important that a health professional show her how to perform the examination correctly on herself. This can be your regular physician, her pediatrician, or one of your cancer specialists. Help your daughter get into the habit of performing it once a month, just after her period.