Family History Raises Risk of Breast Cancer

By: Dara Rees Email
By: Dara Rees Email

Doctors say you are twice as likely to develop breast cancer if close relative, such as a mother or sister has the disease. That's why they say knowing your risks and what to do is so important.

Kathy Sexton began her battle with breast cancer in 2004, her mother Ruth joined the fight just one year later when she was diagnosed with the disease.

"It just threw me for a loop, and I wasn't really sure that she had it, and they were 99 percent sure when they looked at hers that it was," says Kathy.

Doctors say screenings should start early for women with a family history of breast cancer.

Dr. Kirti Jain with the Highlands Cancer Center says, "We start mammograms a little early, at least get a baseline mammogram at 35, and if there is any suspicion then even sooner."

The Sextons' say they have lost two family members to cancer, now Ruth's concern is for her daughter. "A big worry for me. i think kathy looks at it better than I do. When kathy was taking her chemo, she got along better than I did. She was younger, I had to rest a lot."

Dr. Jain says families need to be aware of their risks to better help themselves and their families cope. "Knowing if it's curable, what are the treatments, the side effects of the treatment, what to look for, whether there's light at the end of the tunnel. Is it a curable problem?"

For now, this mother daughter team are not giving up their fight.

Kathy says, "I'm going to fight this with everything in me, to beat this if I can."

Dr. Jain says there are also family linked genetic syndromes that can increase your likelihood of developing breast cancer.

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