Confronting HBOC

Confronting Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer: Identify Your Risk, Understand Your Options, Change Your Destiny.


Book coverConfronting Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer: Identify Your Risk, Understand Your Options, Change Your Destiny

By Sue Friedman, D.V.M., Rebecca Sutphen, M.D., and Kathy Steligo

“This book is an excellent resource for lay people trying to understand and deal with inherited breast and ovarian cancer. By dividing the subject matter into four main parts the reader is taken step by step through all of the different aspects. The section “Understanding Cancer, Genetics and Risks” introduces these important basic principles in a way that is easy to understand for anyone without any previous scientific or medical knowledge. The sections “Assessing Your Risk” and “Managing Your Risk” explain the value of genetic counseling, the different types of genetic tests available, and how the high cancer risk conveyed by BRCA1 an BRCA2 mutations can be managed or reduced by screening and surgical options. Mastectomies, possible breast reconstruction surgeries and gynecologic risk-reducing surgeries are conveyed in great detail. I particularly liked how the authors, breast cancer survivors themselves, are not trying to give any definitive solutions to these issues but are weighing up the pros and cons of each option, while emphasizing that different solutions work for different people. The last section “Living with BRCA,” looks at the impact that mutations have on various aspects of individuals lives, for example, how to approach difficult conversations with family members. In addition, every chapter contains personal stories by individuals who have dealt with the same issues or decisions.”
- Judith Offman, Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care

"As an incredibly rich user-manual for anyone in this situation, Confronting Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer can serve as one of those heavy tools. It names the experience as 'living in a high-risk body,' which feels both meaningful and authoritative. But the book is much more than a reference manual. With the inclusion of personal stories from previvors, survivors, experts and family members, it reads easily and provides comfort as well as comprehensive information for those facing an uncertain future." Read the full review at

"This is a remarkably accurate, comprehensive, and practical guide for patients, doctors and family members. The text is clearly written and well-organized, with informative comments by experts and compelling stories told by people who have confronted hereditary breast and ovarian cancer on a personal level. As a physician practicing in this area of medicine, I highly recommend this book."
- Allison Kurian, MD

"From start to finish, this wonderful resource gives women at risk for breast and ovarian cancer the tools they need to move forward. Essentially, the tools they may need to save their own lives. It can also help their families, their friends, and those who have yet to figure out their BRCA status. From the medical to the emotional, Sue Friedman, Rebecca Sutphen and Kathy Steligo cover all the bases. I have LIVED this book. I had both breast cancer and early-stage, pre-invasive ovarian cancer, and I have the BRCA1 mutation. I WISH I had this book 15 years ago. If you want details on surgery, testing, treatment, side effects... or just counseling and survival statistics, this book has it all. It's about time!! And hopefully, it can save some lives."
- Stacey Sager

"This book was written by three women whose combined knowledge of the topic is perhaps unsurpassed. I have had the honor of meeting Sue Friedman, DVM, who founded FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered). She is truly an encyclopedia of knowledge on the topic. She has teamed with Rebecca Sutphen MD, a clinical geneticist and esteemed researcher on genetic cancer and Kathy Steligo, a health writer who authored The Breast Reconstruction Guidebook. All three women are breast cancer survivors. When I faced my own knowledge of being a BRCA2 mutation carrier, FORCE did not exist, nor were there any reference books. I am thrilled to now be able to have this book for my own reference and to share with others who need guidance, including health care providers. It is well organized and has anecdotes that help make each topic more real and personal. There are helpful tips and diagrams. Further references, especially online links, at the end of each chapter are quite helpful. It also has expert views in each section and detailed publication references for each chapter. I plan to share it with my medical providers and hope that they not only read it but place it in their library to share with patients! I am thankful to the authors for compiling this treasure of information."
- Lori Adelson, MD

"As a BRCA1 breast cancer survivor, this is the best, most informative, well written book on the topic of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer out there. It is clear, compassionate, factual, and brings together a wealth of information that is very hard to find anywhere else. The tone of the book is about understanding your risk and understanding your options. When my daughter is old enough, this will be the book I give her to understand her own risks and help her make her own choices. Thank you, simply thank you, to the authors."
- Lisa Macdonald

"This is a MUST have book for anyone who has a family history of cancer. It is a MUST read for anyone who is looking for answers about the early age deaths that have occurred in their family. If anyone in your family has had breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate cancer or melanoma, I urge you to read this book. Knowledge is power and the information in the book is truly life-saving."
- Amy Shainman

Check out these other FORCE publications

Recognize a Loved One

Joining FORCEs is the FORCE newsletter with news, views and supportive information for individuals concerned about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Understanding HBOC and BRCA

The Understanding HBOC & BRCA section of this website has a comprehensive collection of information on a variety of topics, and includes links to further in-depth articles, books and websites.

FORCE:Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered