Genetic Counseling for Hereditary Breast Cancer: What People With a Family History of Breast Cancer Should Know

October 26, 2023
Brielle Gregory Collins, ASCO staff

The risk for developing some types of cancer, including hereditary breast cancer, can be passed down from generation to generation within a family. To determine whether someone with a family history of breast cancer may be at higher risk for the disease, their doctor may recommend genetic counseling.

In this podcast, Allison Kurian, MD, MSc, FASCO, talks with Kristen Mahoney Shannon, MS, CGC, about what people should know about hereditary breast cancer, including what it is, how to know whether you might be at risk for this genetic condition, and what to expect if genetic counseling is recommended for you.

  • What is a genetic or hereditary condition? [02:27]

  • How common is hereditary breast cancer? [03:51]

  • What are some of the signs that someone might have a history of hereditary breast cancer in their family? [04:30]

  • What genes are associated with hereditary breast cancer? [07:11]

  • How can someone prepare for a genetic counseling appointment? [10:04]

  • What happens during and after the first meeting with a genetic counselor? [12:48]

  • What are some tips for discussing genetic testing results with family members? [16:44]

  • If someone learns they have an increased risk for hereditary breast cancer, what should they know about their treatment options and ways to reduce their cancer risk? [19:52]

Dr. Kurian is a a professor of medicine and of epidemiology and population health at Stanford University Medical Center. She is also the 2023 Cancer.Net Specialty Editor for Breast Cancer. Ms. Shannon is a genetic counselor and the director of cancer genetics at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is also an advisory panelist on the 2023 Cancer.Net Editorial Board.

Disclosure information for Dr. Kurian can be found in her individual biography linked to above. View Ms. Shannon’s disclosures.

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