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Relatives of young breast cancer patients concerned about risk urged to call Helpline

Wednesday 29 September, 2010

People with questions about their risk and family history are encouraged to call the Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 following the release of new research to be published in the British Journal of Cancer today.

The University of Melbourne led study suggests male and female relatives of women diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 35 could be at increased risk of other cancers even if they do not carry BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

The study looked at 2,200 parents and siblings of 500 women with breast cancer diagnosed before the age of 35 across Australia, Canada and the United States. After excluding families with mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2, scientists found that the relatives not only faced an increased risk of breast cancer, but also of prostate, lung, brain and urinary cancers.

Cancer Information and Support Services Director, Dr Amanda Hordern said the results were interesting and may raise important questions for people with a family history of cancer.

"Around 2% of breast cancer cases diagnosed nationally every year are women with very early onset breast cancer," she said.

"Relatives with questions about their risk and family history can confidentially speak to one of our experienced cancer nurses who can help people make sense of their risk. They can also provide reliable information as well as links to services such as the Victorian Family Cancer Genetics Service to support people with concerns."

While it is the largest population based study of its kind, further studies with larger numbers are needed to further clarify these results. Women aged in their 20s and 30s who have breast cancer, or anyone with a family history of early onset breast cancer who would like to contribute to further research can call 1800 090 990 for more information.

Call the Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 for confidential information and support.