The combined pill and breast cancer
Reviewed by our clinical team
In most cases the family history of breast cancer will not affect the safety of the combined pill. However, if your family is known to carry a faulty gene, the combined pill may increase this risk further and you should not use it.
Should I be taking the combined pill?
Breast cancer is very common and most of us will know at least one person with it. It usually occurs in women unexpectedly, but we also know that some patterns of cancer in a family give a clue to the existence of the faulty gene.
Please consult your GP before ordering the combined pill, if breast cancer has been found in:
- Any man in your family
- Three close relatives of any age (grandparents, aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews)
- Your mother or sister, under the age of 40
- Your mother or sister in both breasts, first diagnosed before the age of 50
- Your mother or sister, and one other close relative at any age
- One close relative, and ovarian cancer is found in another close relative
Your risk may also be higher if you have:
- A faulty gene, such as BRCA (for more information consult your GP)
- Jewish ancestry, especially Ashkenazi Jewish
- Rare cancers in close relatives, such as sarcomas, gliomas or childhood adrenal cortical carcinomas
- Complicated patterns of multiple cancers in your family at a young age
What should I do if I might be at risk?
If you fall into any of the patterns or groups above, then you are in a "higher risk" group and you must talk with your local doctor or family planning clinic to discuss whether a referral to a breast or genetic clinic is needed. This is especially important if you are over 35 years of age. You should not request a prescription for the combined pill from us until you're happy about your risk of breast cancer.
If you are currently taking the pill but are in one of the 'at risk' groups, please don't stop the combined pill until you have spoken with your doctor first, as it may be fine for you to continue.