NOTE: Since its discovery in 1995, this type of hereditary cancer has changed from one type of cancer, caused by mutations in only one gene to several types of cancer, caused by mutations in any of many different genes. As a result, all labels used to describe this syndrome, such as ''breast cancer gene'', ''BRCA'', ''hereditary breast and ovarian cancer'' and ''HBOC'' tell only part of the story, leaving out well over half of those who are affected.  To better serve our patient group, we are in the process of changing our name and updating all resources to reflect the fully inclusive and future forward RISKY GENES™ brand.  We ask for your patience during this process.  



Signs and Symptoms

A lump in the breast.  Characteristics may include:

■ The lump is present all the time and does not get smaller or go away with the menstrual cycle

■ The lump may feel like it is attached to the skin or chest wall and cannot be moved

■ The lump may feel hard, irregular in shape and very different from the rest  of the breast tissue

■ The lump may be tender, but it is usually not painful.  Pain is more often a symptom of a non-cancerous (benign) condition, but should still be checked by a doctor

A lump in the armpit (axilla)

Changes in breast shape or size

Skin changes such as dimpling or puckering, redness, swelling and/or increased warmth (signs that look like an infection) may be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer as can itching of the breast or nipple and other itchiness not relieved by ointments, creams or other medications

Nipple changes such as pointed inwards, discharge or ulcers


If you suspect breast cancer ask your doctor to send you for screening which may include one or more of the following:

■ Mammogram
■ Ultrasound
■ Biopsy

Learn more


Depending on the mutation, a risky gene carrier may be at higher risk of some other types of cancer. 

​​​​Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of prostate cancer can also be caused by other health conditions. It is important to have any unusual symptoms checked by a doctor.

■ need to urinate often (frequency), especially at night
■ intense need to urinate (urgency)
■ difficulty in starting or stopping the urine flow
■ inability to urinate
■ weak or decreased urine stream
■ interrupted urine stream
■ a sense of incompletely emptying the bladder
■ burning or pain during urination
■ blood in the urine or semen
■ painful ejaculation


Screening tests will include one or more of the following:

■ PSA Test
■ Digital Rectal Exam
■ Biopsy

Learn more

​​Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms associated with ovarian cancer are often vague, non-specific and can also be caused by other health conditions. It is important to have any unusual symptoms checked by a doctor.  Common symptoms include:

■ Bloating - increased abdominal size/persistent bloating
■ Eating - difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
■ Pain - in pelvic or abdominal areas
■ Urinary symptoms – urgency or frequency

Occasionally there can be other symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, extreme fatigue or unexplained weight loss. Just because you have the symptoms does not mean you have ovarian cancer.  However, if your symptoms persist it is important to see your doctor.


Unfortunately, there is no reliable screening test for ovarian cancer.  If you have signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer ask your doctor for screening, which will include one or more of the following.

■ complete pelvic exam
■ transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound
■ CA-125 blood test
■ CT Scan
■ PET Scan
■ Biopsy

Note:  These tests are most effective when used in combination.

Learn more



Cancer Symptoms and Detection