The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

Personal History of Breast Cancer or Other Cancers

Personal history of invasive breast cancer

Women diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher risk of getting a new breast cancer than women who’ve never had breast cancer [267-270]. 

A new breast cancer is called a second primary breast cancer. Unlike a return of the first breast cancer, a second primary tumor is a new cancer unrelated to the first.

Inherited gene mutations and risk of a second primary breast cancer

If you have a BRCA1, BRCA2 or other inherited gene mutation that increases the risk of breast cancer, you may have a higher risk of a second primary breast cancer compared to other women. 

Your health care provider can discuss any risk-lowering options that may be right for you.

Learn more about BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations and the risk of a second primary breast cancer.

Surgery for first breast cancer and risk of a second primary breast cancer

Women treated with lumpectomy (also called breast conserving surgery) for their first breast cancer can get a second primary cancer in either breast.

Women treated with mastectomy for their first breast cancer can only get a new cancer in the other breast (except in rare cases).

After either type of surgery, the risk of a second breast cancer increases over time.

  • About 5 percent of women will get a second breast cancer within 8 years of their initial diagnoses [267-268].
  • After about 25 years, up to 14 percent of women will have been diagnosed with a second breast cancer [267,271].

Hormone receptor status of first breast cancer and risk of second primary breast cancer

Women whose first breast cancer was hormone receptor-negative may have a higher risk of a second primary breast cancer compared to those whose first breast cancer was hormone receptor-positive [269,272-275].

Personal history of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive breast cancer. Abnormal cells grow within the milk ducts of the breast, but haven’t spread to nearby tissues.

DCIS is non-invasive, but without treatment, the abnormal cells could progress to invasive breast cancer over time.

Left untreated, about 40-50 percent of DCIS cases may progress to invasive breast cancer [276]. (These numbers are estimates.) 

Higher grade DCIS may be more likely than lower grade DCIS to progress to invasive cancer in the near future if left untreated [276].

Health care providers can’t predict which cases of DCIS will progress to invasive breast cancer and which will not. So, almost all cases of DCIS are treated.

After treatment for DCIS, there’s still a small risk of [276-280]:

  • DCIS recurrence (a return of DCIS)
  • Invasive breast cancer

One study found, after treatment with lumpectomy (with or without radiation therapy) for DCIS, women had a [280]:

  • 3 percent chance of DCIS or invasive breast cancer after 5 years
  • 6 percent chance of DCIS or invasive breast cancer after 10 years

Learn more about treatment for DCIS.

Learn more about DCIS and the risk of invasive breast cancer.

Learn more about the anatomy of the breast.

Personal history of Hodgkin’s disease (Hodgkin lymphoma) or other cancers

A personal history of certain other cancers can increase the risk of breast cancer.

Hodgkin’s disease (Hodgkin lymphoma)

Women who had Hodgkin’s disease (Hodgkin lymphoma) in childhood or early adulthood have an increased risk of breast cancer [281-287]. They are about 5-12 times more likely to get breast cancer than women who never had Hodgkin’s disease [283].

By age 50, women who had Hodgkin’s disease in childhood or early adulthood have about a 35 percent chance of developing breast cancer [284].

Breast cancer risk appears to be greater among women treated with radiation therapy for Hodgkin’s compared to those treated with chemotherapy alone [281,283,285].

Women treated for Hodgkin’s at later ages (even with radiation therapy) don’t appear to have an increased risk of breast cancer [283].

Ovarian cancer

Women who’ve had ovarian cancer have an increased risk of breast cancer [28]. This is likely due to genetic factors.

Women who have an inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation have an increased risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer [28,180].

Other cancers

Some rare gene mutations can lead to genetic syndromes that increase the risk of more than one type of cancer, including breast cancer.

A personal history of another cancer (such as colon, thyroid or uterine cancer) that’s related to a rare genetic syndrome can increase the risk of breast cancer [186,288-289].

Learn more about inherited gene mutations.

 

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