Cancer Council Australia

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Genetic breast cancer risk

Actress Angelina Jolie's recent public comments about her decision to undergo a prophylactic (preventive) double mastectomy have attracted worldwide media interest.

Given the prevalence of breast cancer in Australia (14,000 new cases and 2700 deaths a year), there has been significant interest in this country in Ms Jolie's decision.

Although breast cancer is common in Australia, only 5-10% of cases are linked to known genetic factors.

Prophylactic surgery on the basis of genetic susceptibility to illness is a complex issue and we recommend anyone considering this form of surgery seek expert advice so they can make an informed decision. Women who are concerned about genetic risk of breast cancer should discuss the issue with their doctor. GPs can offer advice on genetic testing and counselling.

The main cause of breast cancer is ageing. Cutting alcohol intake can, however, significantly reduce your risk, as can maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and eating a balanced diet, particularly for postmenopausal women.

Cancer Council information:

This page was last updated on: Wednesday, May 22, 2019

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