What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Being a woman and getting older are the main risk factors for breast cancer.
Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. The main factors that influence your risk include being a woman and getting older. Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older.
Some women will get breast cancer even without any other risk factors that they know of. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors have the same effect. Most women have some risk factors, but most women do not get breast cancer. If you have breast cancer risk factors, talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and about screening for breast cancer.
Symptoms Of Angiosarcoma Of The Breast
Another rare form of breast cancer, angiosarcoma forms inside the lymph and blood vessels. Only a biopsy may definitively diagnose this type of cancer. Angiosarcoma can cause changes to the skin of your breast, such as the development of purple-colored nodules that resemble a bruise. These nodules, if bumped or scratched, may bleed. Over time, these discolored areas may expand, making your skin appear swollen in that area. You may or may not have breast lumps with angiosarcoma. If you also have lymphedema, which is swelling caused by a buildup of lymphatic fluid, angiosarcoma may occur in the affected arm. Cancer treatment sometimes damages the lymph vessels, which may lead to lymphedema.
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Using The Oral Contraceptive Pill
A number of studies suggest a womans breast cancer risk is increased while she is taking the oral contraceptive pill and for up to 10 years after stopping it. For most young women in their 20s and 30s the increase in risk is small, but for older women and those with other strong risk factors the risk may be greater.
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Why Does Cancer Risk Increase As We Get Older
Of all of cancer’s many riddles and mysteries, one fact remains consistent across almost all types of the disease: The risk of getting cancer increases with age. According to the National Cancer Institute , the median patient age at the time of a cancer diagnosis is 66. “Advancing age is the most important risk factor for cancer overall,” the NCI website says.
There are exceptions, of course. Half of all cases of testicular cancer occur in men 20 to 34 years old. And some cancers are more common in children. Nearly 60 percent of patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia, for instance, are younger than 20, and the median patient age at diagnosis is 15. But patients younger than 20 account for 1 percent of all new cancer cases and .3 percent of cancer deaths.
Who Should Get Screened
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggest that females aged 5074 years who are at average risk of developing breast cancer should go for screening every 2 years.
Those aged 4049 years, particularly those with a higher risk of breast cancer, should speak to their doctor about the risks and benefits of undergoing regular screening.
Doctors tend to use a mammogram to screen people for breast cancer. A mammogram is a breast X-ray that can help detect breast cancer early on, before it starts to produce symptoms.
Other exams available for people at a higher risk of breast cancer include:
There are both risks and benefits associated with regularly screening for breast cancer. Many people conclude that the benefits outweigh the risks, but getting screened is a personal decision.
The risks of screening for breast cancer include:
- False positives: A false positive occurs when a test result falsely suggests that a person has cancer. False positives can prompt additional tests, which may cause anxiety and can be expensive and time consuming.
- Overtreatment: Some cancers are benign and do not go on to cause symptoms or other problems. Treating these types of cancers is called overtreatment, and it can lead to unnecessary side effects, expense, and anxiety.
- False negatives: A false negative occurs when a test result misses the presence of a cancer. False negatives can delay diagnosis and treatment.
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Grade Of The Cancerous Cells
A sample of breast cancer tissue can be looked at under the microscope. By looking at certain features of the cells, the cancer can be graded.
- Grade 1 – the cancer cells tend to be slow-growing and less aggressive.
- Grade 2 – is a middle grade.
- Grade 3 – the cancer cells tend to be fast-growing and more aggressive.
Cancer Occurrence At Older Ages
Life expectancy and the percentage of the U.S. population that is surviving at older ages has increased dramatically over the last century. In 1900, the average life expectancy from birth was 47 years in 2011, life expectancy from birth was about 76 years for men and 81 years for women. Just since 1960, life expectancy at age 65 years has increased by 5 years. Life expectancy also shifts upward as people survive to older ages . For example, in 2011, men aged 65 years were expected to live another 18 years , whereas women aged 65 years were expected to live another 20 years . More than half of the adults aged 85 years in 2011 can expect to live at least another 6 years. During 2010â2050, the number of adults aged 85 years and older in the U.S. is projected to grow from 5.5 million to 19 million.
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How Much Do Anastrozole And Exemestane Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Studies have shown that both anastrozole and exemestane can lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at increased risk of the disease.
In one large study, taking anastrozole for five years lowered the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 53 percent. In another study, taking exemestane for three years lowered the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 65 percent.
The most common side effects seen with anastrazole and exemestane are joint pains, decreased bone density, and symptoms of menopause .
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/31/2018.
How Is Breast Cancer Treated In Younger Women
Treatment decisions are made based whether or not it has spread beyond the breast, as well as the woman’s general health and personal circumstances.
Treatment options include:
Surgery: either a lumpectomy, which involves removing the tumor and some surrounding tissue, or a mastectomy, which is the removal of a breast.
Radiation is generally used following a lumpectomy, and chemotherapyand hormone therapy often are recommended after surgery to help destroy any remaining cancer cells and prevent a return.
Breast cancer treatment can affect your sexuality, fertility, and pregnancy. If youâd like to have children, talk to your doctor it before you begin treatment.
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Considerations For Bilateral Mastectomy
Increasingly, women with unilateral breast cancer are treated with bilateral mastectomy . The reason is to stop the risk of death from developing bilateral breast cancer, or cancer in the opposite breast. However, this treatment is controversial because bilateral mastectomy is not proven to decrease death from breast cancer.
Its important to speak with your healthcare provider and assess your risk of developing bilateral breast cancer and whether this surgical intervention is warranted.
What Is The Average American Womans Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer During Her Lifetime
Based on current incidence rates, 12.9% of women born in the United States today will develop breast cancer at some time during their lives . This estimate, from the most recent SEER Cancer Statistics Review , is based on breast cancer statistics for the years 2015 through 2017.
This estimate means that, if the current incidence rate stays the same, a woman born today has about a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life. On the other hand, the chance that she will never have breast cancer is 87.1%, or about 7 in 8.
For men born in the United States today, the lifetime risk of breast cancer is 0.13%, based on breast cancer statistics for the years 2015 through 2017. This means that a man born today has about a 1 in 800 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during his life.
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Can Exercise Help Reduce My Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer
Exercise is a big part of a healthy lifestyle. It can also be a useful way to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer in your postmenopausal years. Women often gain weight and body fat during menopause. People with higher amounts of body fat can be at a higher risk of breast cancer. However, by reducing your body fat through exercise, you may be able to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
The general recommendation for regular exercise is about 150 minutes each week. This would mean that you work out for about 30 minutes, five days each week. However, doubling the amount of weekly exercise to 300 minutes can greatly benefit postmenopausal women. The longer duration of exercise allows for you to burn more fat and improve your heart and lung function.
The type of exercise you do can vary the main goal is get your heart rate up as you exercise. Its recommended that your heart rate is raised about 65 to 75% of your maximum heart rate during exercise. You can figure out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your current age from 220. If you are 65, for example, your maximum heart rate is 155.
Aerobic exercise is a great way to improve your heart and lung function, as well as burn fat. Some aerobic exercises you can try include:
Remember, there are many benefits to working more exercise into your weekly routine. Some benefits of aerobic exercise can include:
What Are The Symptoms
The most common symptoms of breast cancer in men are
- A lump or swelling in the breast.
- Redness or flaky skin in the breast.
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
- Nipple discharge.
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
These symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer. If you have any symptoms or changes, see your doctor right away.
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A Family History Of Breast Cancer
Having someone in your family with breast cancer doesnt automatically mean your own risk is increased. For most people, having a relative with breast cancer does not increase their risk.
However, a small number of women and men have an increased risk of developing breast cancer because they have a significant family history.
Midlife As A Critical Period In The Life Course For Cancer Risk And Prevention
Cancer development is a complex process that occurs over a span of many years. A life course approach,, is particularly well suited to understanding the contributions of various cancer risk factors over a personâs life span. As Rando observed, the biologic processes of aging are mysterious and highly variable. Aging is influenced by genetically determined processes but also can be modified by environmental influences.,, For example, cigarette smoke is thought to accelerate the aging process.
When applied to cancer research, the life course approach has been used to examine the influence of prenatal and early life events on cancer development in adulthood., A recent federal, interagency report on breast cancer research, for example, highlighted evidence that exposures that cause molecular and cellular changes in mammary tissue during puberty or earlier can influence breast cancer development many years later. The finding that breast cancer incidence rates fell after the decline in the use of hormone replacement therapy at menopause suggests that critical periods for breast cancer development also exist later in life. In addition, opportunities may exist to intervene at midlife to alter or reverse disease processes that were initiated at earlier life stages.
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What Is Different About Breast Cancer In Younger Women
- Diagnosing breast cancer in younger women is more difficult because their breast tissue is generally denser than the breast tissue in older women, and routine screening is not recommended.
- Breast cancer in younger women may be more aggressive and less likely to respond to treatment.
- Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age are more likely to have genetic mutations predisposing them to breast and other cancers.
- Younger women who have breast cancer may ignore the warning signssuch as a breast lump or unusual dischargebecause they believe they are too young to get breast cancer. This can lead to a delay in diagnosis and poorer outcomes.
- Some healthcare providers may also dismiss breast lumps or other symptoms in young women or adopt a “wait and see” approach.
- Breast cancer poses additional challenges for younger women as it can involve issues concerning sexuality, fertility, and pregnancy after breast cancer treatment.
Causes Of Breast Cancer In Men
The exact cause of breast cancer in men is not known, but there are some things that increase your risk of getting it.
- genes and family history inheriting faulty versions of genes called BRCA1 or BRCA2 increases your risk of breast cancer
- conditions that can increase the level of oestrogen in the body including obesity, Klinefelter syndrome and scarring of the liver
- previous radiotherapy to the chest area
Its not certain that you can do anything to reduce your risk, but eating a balanced diet, losing weight if youre overweight and not drinking too much alcohol may help.
Page last reviewed: 18 March 2020 Next review due: 18 March 2023
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Metastatic Breast Cancer Statistics
The number of women under 40 being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer is increasing.
Metastatic breast cancer means that the cancer has advanced to stage 4 and has moved beyond the breast tissue into other areas of the body, such as the bones or the brain. Survival rates are lower for cancer that has metastasized to other parts of the body.
According to the American Cancer Society , the 5-year survival rate for those with breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is 27 percent for women of all ages. However, one found no significant differences in median survival rate between younger and older women with metastatic breast cancer.
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Is Breast Cancer Common In 30 Year Olds
This means that 1 in 1,732 women in this age group can expect to develop breast cancer. Put another way, your odds of developing breast cancer if you are in this age range are 1 in 1,732. If your current age is 30, the probability of developing invasive breast cancer in the next 10 years is .44%, or 1 in 228.
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Previous Breast Cancer Or Lump
If you have previously had breast cancer or early non-invasive cancer cell changes in breast ducts, you have a higher risk of developing it again, either in your other breast or in the same breast.
A benign breast lump does not mean you have breast cancer, but certain types of breast lumps may slightly increase your risk of developing cancer.
Some benign changes in your breast tissue, such as cells growing abnormally in ducts , or abnormal cells inside your breast lobes , can make getting breast cancer more likely.
What Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon form of breast cancer but is very aggressive. It is often very advanced by the time of diagnosis. It is called inflammatory because the breast often looks swollen and red .
Inflammatory breast cancer tends to be diagnosed in younger women than other forms of breast cancer. Because it is aggressive and often diagnosed at a late stage, the outlook is usually worse than for other breast cancers.
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Breast Cancer And Birth Control
Some research has shown that taking hormonal birth control slightly increases the risk of breast cancer. However, once you stop using hormonal birth control, risk levels eventually return to normal.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center also notes that the overall cancer risk for teens remains low, even though using hormonal birth control minimally increases the risk of developing cancer.
If you use hormonal birth control and youre concerned about your cancer risk, please discuss your options with your doctor before stopping your birth control.
According to research, including a , use of oral contraceptives increases the risk of early onset breast cancer in people under 25 years old who have a BRCA gene mutation.
Doctors should exercise caution before recommending oral contraceptives to someone in this group.
That said, an increased breast cancer risk is just one of many factors to consider before deciding on the right birth control method.
Teens going through the earlier stages of puberty may notice lumps near their nipples. Tenderness and soreness are also possible. These occur during normal breast development and arent a cause of concern on their own.
Your period can also cause tenderness and soreness in the breasts.
When Should I Start Having A Mammogram
All women should have a mammogram. Many women start having regular mammograms every year at about age 40. Alberta Health Care covers one mammogram per year starting at that age. If you have a concern about your breasts earlier than that, you should see your doctor and arrange to have appropriate imaging of your breasts. This may be a mammogram, ultrasound, or both. To get a screening mammogram, you will need to speak to your doctor about your family history, when to start screening, and how frequently you should be screened.
Mayfair Diagnostics recommends screening mammography every year from age 40 to 49, then every two years between age 50 and 74, if there are no risks factors that would necessitate a shorter interval. After age 75, screening frequency will depend on a number of factors, including your medical history.
Women with the following risk factors are considered high risk and may be encouraged to start screening earlier and more frequently:
- Personal history of breast or ovarian cancer.
- First-degree relative diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer.
- BRCA1, BRCA2 positive.
- Three or more second-degree relatives with breast or ovarian cancer.
- Volpara D breast density* score.
- Chest wall radiation at an age younger than 30.
- History of lobular carcinoma in situ or atypical hyperplasia on previous breast biopsy.
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