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Dad, we need to talk: How family history of prostate cancer can impact your risk of breast cancer

A study found an increased risk of breast cancer in daughters whose dad had prostate cancer. Here's what you need to know.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Family history is important when you want to know your risks for breast cancer.

Dr. Conrad Tobert, a urologist with Spectrum Health, says you need to include your dad in that conversation. 

"If you have a father or a close male relative who has had prostate cancer, it's important to know that your rate of risk of breast cancer goes up," he said.

It goes up by 14%, according to a Women's Health Initiative Observational Study published in the journal Cancer.

The study observed more than 160,000 women over five years. It found breast cancer risk was 14% higher in women whose father had prostate cancer and 78% higher for women who had a father with prostate cancer and a mother with breast cancer.

Dr. Tobert says there's a reason for the link between the two cancers: Hormones. 

"That is the theory and the assumption that they are, you know, related to hormonal elements," he said.

And because of that link, Dr. Amie Hop, a breast surgeon for Spectrum Health, says it's even more important to know your family history of both cancers. 

"I think where this hits home for people is to remember that both sides of your family matters, and that male and female cancers can impact the male and female folks in the family," she said.

Dr. Hop says knowing your family history of prostate cancer can have an impact on your breast cancer screening. 

"And so the important thing to remember is that you may not be average risk, you might be slightly higher than average risk, and then you might choose to do your mammogram annually instead of every other year."

But the only way you'll have that choice is by knowing your family history of both breast and prostate cancer. 

It's important to remember that the 14% increase is in risk, not a 14% chance that you'll get breast cancer. 

To find out your risk of breast cancer you'll need to take a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment .


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