Odds Of Developing Breast Cancer In The Opposite Breast

Uploaded by drjayharness on 19.06.2012

Almost on a weekly basis, I am asked a question, 'Gee Dr. Harness I know you have been focused
on the treatment of my right or my left breast, but what are the chances of the cancer coming
back in the other breast over the rest of my life'?
Tough question because it depends on a lot of factors, but the general answer is somewhere
in the neighbourhood of 15% to 18% over the rest of your life, and I literally mean over
the rest of your life. I am dealing with patients right now who are
in their 80s, who in their 60s had breast cancer on one side, and now they are coming
back with breast cancer on the other side, and frankly I have even had patients recently
in their 90s, who are like 15, 20, 25, 30 years off from the treatment of their original
breast cancer. I have said before here at Breast Cancer Answers,
breast cancer is a lifetime disease because no matter what we do to the effective breast,
we literally have to follow the other breast for the rest of the patient’s life.
Now the odds of getting into cancer in the other breast, as I said a minute ago, certainly
can be variable more than that generalized 15 to 18%.  First of all with a really strong
family history, particularly if there is ovarian cancer in the family, but we want to absolutely
make sure that somebody is G negative for BRCA1 and 2.
But I have seen plenty of strong family histories where the patient is in fact negative for
BRCA1 & 2, but when you factor in all of their other relatives, lifetime risk may jump up
to 25%, 27%, and there are formulas there that genetic counsellors can work with you
and help in to develop the proper answer for you.
So we received these questions periodically at Breast Cancer Answers, 'Gee Dr. Harness,
what are the odds of my getting cancer in my other breast'?  In general it is around
15% to 18% over the rest of your life, but if there are other factors, particularly in
your family history, please, please, please work with a genetic counsellor, qualified
genetic counsellor, sit down, and do the calculations for your specific set of circumstances.
Dr. Jay K. Harness is a board certified surgeon currently treating patients at St. Joesph
Hospital in Orange, CA. Dr. Harness specializes in complete breast health, breast cancer surgery,
oncoplastic reconstruction, genetic screening, management of breast health issues, risk assessment
and counseling. Dr. Harness is the medical director for Breast Cancer Answers.com, and
guides this first ever social media show’s information by drawing on his former leadership
experience as the President of the American Society of Breast Surgeons and Breast Surgery
International. Dr. Harness graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1969
and spent time early on in his career at the University of Michigan Medical Center.