Information for the public

Questions to ask about familial breast cancer

These questions may help you discuss familial breast cancer or the treatments you have been offered with your healthcare team.

About familial breast cancer

  • Can you tell me more about familial breast cancer? Can my condition be passed on to my children (female and male)?

  • Can men pass on the faulty genes to daughters or sons?

  • How do I tell my children about my condition and when should I do it?

  • Who should I contact if I have any worries?

  • If another member of my family gets breast or ovarian cancer, will this increase my own risk? What should I do if this happens?

Finding out about breast cancer risk

  • Can you tell me more about the tests/investigations to find out about breast cancer risk? How accurate are the results?

  • What do the tests involve? Will I need to have them in hospital?

  • How long will I have to wait to have these tests? How long will it take to get the results? Who will give me the results?

  • What happens if I don't want a genetic test? Could I be forced to have one if my family put pressure on me?

  • Will the results of a genetic test affect any life or travel insurance?

  • My daughter can't decide if she wants the test or not. Will someone discuss it with her?

  • Can I still be at high or moderate risk if I don't have a faulty gene?

Breast cancer surveillance

  • Am I entitled to mammograms or MRI scans, or both?

  • Can you give me more details about mammograms and MRI scans? What do they involve? What are the risks and benefits?

  • If I have a mammogram and an MRI scan, will they be done in the same place? Will I have them together?

  • Can I stop having mammograms and/or scans if I decide I don't want them any more?

  • What is my risk from radiation if I have yearly mammograms and MRI scans from age 30?

  • I don't qualify for an MRI scan; can I get one done privately?

  • Now I'm 50 my yearly mammogram has stopped. But breast cancer risk increases with age, so why am I only entitled to a mammogram every 3¬†years now?

  • I'm over 70. Does this mean I won't have mammograms any more?

  • Where can I find out more about the breast cancer screening programme?

Treatments for reducing risk

  • Can you tell me about options to reduce my risk of developing breast cancer? What are the pros and cons of the different options?

  • How much might they reduce my risk?

  • Is there some other information (like a leaflet, DVD or a website I can go to) about the options for reducing risk? Can you discuss this information with me?

  • Do you have any more information that might help me make a decision?

  • I don't want drugs or surgery now. Can I have them later or just continue with my surveillance?

Drug treatment

  • What is the evidence that this drug treatment will reduce my risk?

  • How much will it reduce my risk and how long will I have to take it?

  • Might I have any serious side effects?

  • Might this drug affect my ability to have children?

  • Can I take HRT?

  • I am a man at high risk. Is drug treatment suitable for me?


  • What are the risks and benefits of having surgery to reduce risk?

  • What might be the psychological effects of surgery?

  • Might it affect my relationship with my partner?

  • Can I choose my surgeon to do breast reconstruction?

  • I want my ovaries removed now but I want to have children later. Do I have any other options?

  • Can I wait until I am older to have my ovaries removed?

  • If I have my ovaries removed can I take HRT to help with menopausal symptoms that I might experience?

  • What are the symptoms of menopause that I might experience after the operation?

  • Are there any complementary therapies I can take for menopausal symptoms if I do not want to take HRT?

  • Might HRT increase my risk of breast cancer?

  • How long should I take HRT for?

  • If I stop taking HRT might my menopausal symptoms return?

  • I am a man at high risk. Do I have any options for surgery?

  • Can you give me details of any support groups for people thinking about breast or ovarian surgery to reduce breast cancer risk?

Contact information

  • Who do I contact once I'm in the system?

  • Is there a single point of contact or do I have a list of people?

  • If I want another consultation with a specialist, can I arrange one?

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