Can breast cancer be inherited?

The risk can. Breast cancer itself is not passed down, but the risk for developing breast cancer can be inherited. Mutations in genes called brca1 and brca2 can be passed from a parent to a child. These inherited mutations increase the risk of developing breast cancer dramatically. A person with a brca mutation may have a 50% or higher chance of developing breast cancer, but it's not 100%.
Absolutely. The major genes that are talked about are brca1 and 2. The risk of cancer is high enough that carriers of the gene will elect for bilateral mastectomy before even finding cancer. If one family member is a carrier, others should be tested. It is also associated with higher rates of male cancer.
Yes. As many as 10-15% of all breast cancers in the US are of the hereditary type. This has been studied quite extensively and mutations to a specific gene, called the BRCA gene, is linked to this risk. These mutations may be found with the use of a simple blood test.

Related Questions

Could breast cancer be inherited?

Yes/no. Cancer is not inherited but you can inherit certain genetic changes that make it more likely to get breast cancer (and others as well). About 1 in 10 breast cancers have an inherited component, most due to brca 1 or 2. Other genes can also be at play, like p53, pten, stk11, atm and others. Discuss this with your doc and see if you would benefit of a visit with a cancer geneticist. Read more...
Sort of. There are certain genes that tend to run in families that can significantly increase your risk of breast cancer. That's why your hear about some families with several women having breast cancer and others with just one. Read more...

How is breast cancer inherited between family members?

BRCA Mutations. The genetic mutations responsible for the hereditary type of breast cancer are called BRCA mutations. If either parent has this mutation, there's a 50:50 chance that any of their children will inherit this mutation. Even with this mutation, the chance of breast cancer is not 100%; it's closer to 60%(in women). Keep in mind that only 10-15% of all breast cancers in the US are the hereditary type. Read more...
Gene defects. Defects in genes that repair or control cell growth can predispose one to get cancer. These genes can sometimes be transferred from one generation to the next. There are several hereditary breast cancer genes, the most well recognized of which are the brca1 and 2. Read more...
Aut Dom. The brca mutations that cause hereditary breast and ovarian cancers are transmitted in an autosomal dominant pattern. This mean if one of your parents has the mutation, you have a 50% chance of having it. Read more...