Question: If I have a personal or family history of ovarian cancer, does that increase my risk for breast cancer?
Answer: Ovarian cancer is part of the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome and since we've had a better understanding of this syndrome over the last five or six years, we now know that ovarian cancer is a part of that. So women who have inherited a mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 have a significantly increased risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
Some of the women who have just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer may have one of these mutations. About 7 percent of ovarian cancer may be attributed to one of these inherited mutations. Those women are also at significantly increased risk of breast cancer.
So a family history of ovarian cancer is now recognized to be, or a personal history of (ovarian) cancer, is now recognized to be a risk factor for breast cancer, as well. It's difficult to say exactly what the risk is for a woman who's been diagnosed with ovarian cancer only, without any other family history. She may be at slightly increased risk, but it's hard to separate out the risk associated with these inherited mutations versus general risk associated.