Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC)

Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) is an inherited condition that is associated with an increased risk of cancers of the breast, ovaries, fallopian tubes, peritoneum, prostate, and pancreas.

HBOC affects both men and women, and is caused by mutations or changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. People with a first degree relative with a BRCA mutation have a 50% chance of having the mutation.

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Additional information:


Family History and HBOC

Family history plays an important role in identifying people at risk for HBOC. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has several recommended resources for assessing risk, including the National Cancer Institute's Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool. In addition, the CDC has created the Know:BRCA tool, and MDHHS has developed the hand-held Cancer Family History Guide.

If HBOC is suspected, the appropriate next step is to talk to your health care provider and seek genetic counseling from a qualified professional. If a relative has been found to have a known BRCA mutation, referral of other family members to a cancer genetic counselor is also recommended.


Cancer Genetic Counseling and Testing for HBOC

Cancer genetic counseling is a process that helps identify the risk of HBOC. It involves the gathering and evaluation of information, as well as patient education before any genetic test is done. Genetic counseling does not always lead to genetic testing. The appropriate genetic screening process includes, but is not limited to:

  • Gathering of individual and family health history
  • Assessment of cancer risk
  • Genetic counseling before and after any recommended tests
  • Informed consent for all recommended procedures
  • Guidance on cancer prevention measures, in case of positive test results
  • Possible screening of family members who may carry the same mutation

Genetic testing helps determine whether a patient's breast or ovarian cancer is inherited, and whether family members have a higher risk of developing the same cancer. Having this knowledge is the first step in cancer prevention and intervention that could protect the health and save the lives of at-risk relatives.

For more information about cancer genetic counseling, please see the MCGA and MCC Joint Position Paper: Genetic Counseling and Testing for Hereditary Cancer Predisposition Syndromes (pdf).


Support Groups

For support and information about Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer, visit:


State Resources


National Resources


Contact Us

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If you have questions, call the MDHHS Genetic Information Line at 1-866-852-1247 or email For cancer genetic counseling and testing services in your area, visit the Directory of Clinical Cancer Genetic Services in Michigan.

Genomics and Genetic Disorders Section 
Lifecourse Epidemiology and Genomics Division 
P.O. Box 30195
333  S. Grand Avenue
Lansing, Michigan  48909-30195


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Funding for this program was made possible (in part) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The views expressed in written materials, publications, or webpages do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Last reviewed: 6/25/2018