Breast Cancer Risk & Risk Assessment
Breast Diagnostic Center Overview | Screening Information | Our Services/Procedures | Our Team | Your Appointment |
Breast Cancer Risk | Breast Self-Exam | Breast Cancer 101 | Breast Cancer Resources | Bone Density | Contact Us
A “risk factor” is anything that contributes to the likelihood that you will get a particular disease. When it comes to your health, and specifically, the health of your breasts, it’s important to get a clear understanding of your risk factors and take a closer look at how you can be part of reducing your risk.
The causes of breast cancer still are not known. But over the years, research has identified several factors that increase one’s chance of getting breast cancer. While some risk factors aren’t modifiable, there are steps you can take in your overall health to lower your risk for breast cancer.
It’s important to know that risk factors do not cause breast cancer. Also, having one or even several risk factors doesn't necessarily mean you'll develop cancer. Additionally, many women who develop breast cancer have no known risk factors other than simply being women.
So what are the risk factors?
Age – This is the most influential risk factor. The older you get, your potential for getting breast cancer increases.
Family History – Your risk is higher with a family history of breast cancer, especially a mother, sister or daughter of breast and/ovarian cancer.
Hormoes/Childbirth – Your risk is higher if you had your first period before age 12, began menopause after age 55, never had children, or had your first child after age 30. Postmenopausal use of hormonal therapy also increases your risk of developing breast cancer.
Previous Biopsy – You may be at increased risk if you’ve had abnormal breast biopsy results or advanced benign breast diseases requiring biopsies. Other breast diseases such as atypical hyperplasia and lobular carcinoma are risk factors as well.
Weight – Overweight and obese women have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer compared to those who maintain a healthy weight, especially after menopause.
Genetic Alterations – Inherited alterations in the genes, called BRCA1 and BRCA2, account for about 5% - 10% of all breast cancer cases.
Education/Socioeconomic Status – Women with a higher socioeconomic status and/or education tend to have fewer children and start childbearing after age 30 – both of which put them at higher risk.
Other Factors – These include use of oral contraceptives, a diet high in saturated fats, minimal physical activity and more than one alcoholic beverage a day.
The Breast Diagnostic Center provides risk assessment services for its patients who meet certain critera. The tool we use is based on family history that will help us better understand your personal risk for developing breast cancer. Once your information is entered from the questionnaire, you will receive a calculated percentage – your lifetime risk percentage. This number is an estimate of how likely it is that you will develop breast cancer sometime in the future. The results of your assessment will aid us in determining what kinds of scans and procedures, if any, will best benefit you.
The American Cancer Society has determined that women at high risk (greater than 20% lifetime risk) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderately increased risk (15% to 20% lifetime risk) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram. Yearly MRI screening is not recommended for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15%.
If you have questions or would like more information, please talk with anyone on our staff.