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.
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.
Menstrual And Reproductive History
Starting menstrual periods at a younger age or going through menopause at a later age raises the bodys exposure to these hormones, which can increase a persons risk of breast cancer.
Females who have never given birth at full-term and those who had their first full-term pregnancy after the age of 30 years also have a higher risk of breast cancer, according to the NCI.
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When A Cure For Breast Cancer Isn’t Possible
If breast cancer has been diagnosed in its later stages, the cancer may have spread to the point where a cure is no longer possible. Treatment then focuses on improving quality of life by relieving the symptoms with medication to relieve pain, nausea and vomiting. The Cancer Council Victoria booklet called Advanced Cancer: Living with Advanced Cancer may be helpful to read.
What Causes Breast Cancer
Many different things can affect your chances of getting breast cancer.
Theres no single cause. It results from a combination of the way we live our lives, our genes and our environment.
We cant predict who will get breast cancer. And we cant confidently say what might have caused someones breast cancer.
There are, however, some things you can do to lower your chances of getting it.
Atypical Hyperplasia Or Atypia
Either atypical hyperplasia or atypia indicates the growth of abnormal cells in the breast. The diagnosis of atypical hyperplasia can be made from a core biopsy or excisional biopsy, and has been correlated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
The diagnosis of atypia can be made from nipple aspiration, ductal lavage, or fine needle aspiration , and also indicates an increased breast cancer risk. Although these cells are not yet cancerous, they do raise a womans risk of eventually developing breast cancer. While biopsies and FNAs are usually reserved for when there is a current indication that a woman might have breast cancer, nipple aspiration and ductal lavage are methods that may help assess a womans future risk of breast cancer.
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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
It’s not certain that you can do anything to reduce your risk, but eating a balanced diet, losing weight if you’re 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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Breast Cancer: Risk Factors And Prevention
Have questions about breast cancer? Ask here.
ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing breast cancer. Use the menu to see other pages.
A risk factor is anything that increases a persons chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.
Most breast cancers are sporadic, meaning they develop from damage to a persons genes that occurs by chance after they are born. There is no risk of the person passing this gene on to their children, as the underlying cause of sporadic breast cancer is environmental factors.
Inherited breast cancers are less common, making up 5% to 10% of cancers. Inherited breast cancer occurs when gene changes called mutations are passed down within a family from parent to child. Many of those mutations are in tumor suppressor genes, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2. These genes normally keep cells from growing out of control and turning into cancer. But when these cells have a mutation, it can cause them to grow out of control.
The following factors may raise a womans risk of developing breast cancer:
Other Treatment For Breast Cancer
Depending on the cancer, other treatment options can include:
- Radiotherapy use x-rays to kill any remaining cancer cells. Women who have had breast-conserving surgery often have a course of radiotherapy. Side effects can include a short-term reddening of the skin, which looks like sunburn, or longer-term thickening of skin.
- Chemotherapy cancer-killing medication is given intravenously . Chemotherapy can be offered to women with early breast cancer as an extra treatment to surgery, radiotherapy or both. Chemotherapy has side effects that will depend on the type of medication you have, but can include nausea, vomiting and hair loss.
- Hormone treatments many breast cancers are influenced by the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Hormone treatment can reduce the chances of breast cancer developing again.
- Biological therapies strengthen the immune system to fight cancer. Several types of biological therapies are now used to treat breast cancer. Research is continuing and various types of therapies are being tested in clinical trials.
- Complementary and alternative therapies when used alongside your conventional cancer treatment, some of these therapies can make you feel better and improve quality of life. Others may not be so helpful and in some cases may be harmful. The Cancer Council Victoria booklet called Understanding complementary therapies can be a useful resource.
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Is Teen Breast Cancer Common
Can teens get breast cancer? According to the National Cancer Institute, less than 2% of women are diagnosed before the age of 34. While the chance of being diagnosed with teen breast cancer is quite low, this period of adolescence is the perfect time to begin healthy habits like tobacco product avoidance, regular exercise, and implementing a healthy diet. Furthermore, less than 5% of breast cancer cases occur in women under the age of 40. With less than 25 cases of breast cancer per year in each age group under the age of 40, its likely other causes trigger breast cancer:
- Breast cysts Similar to pimples on the skin, cysts are small growths under the skin. Women with fibrocystic breasts have breasts that regularly feel lumpy and contain cysts. Girls in their teens should talk with their doctors about this if they have these symptoms. Women with this issue should be able to distinguish between cancer and cysts.
- Cystosarcoma phyllodes Phyllodes are fast-growing tumors but are always benign and are very rare. However, in 10% of cases, they spread to other parts of the body and many women get them removed.
- Fibroadenoma This benign breast tumor is more common among young women in their 20s and 30s but occurs much younger. Although they dont turn into cancer, they are associated with increasing the risk of breast cancer.
Other less common cancers include:
How Common Is Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. The average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. This also means there is a 7 in 8 chance she will never have the disease.
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Benefits Of Mammographic Screening
The ACS systematic review also examined the effect of screening mammography on life expectancy. Although the review concluded that there was high-quality evidence that mammographic screening increases life expectancy by decreasing breast cancer mortality, the authors were not able to estimate the size of the increase 23.
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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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.
Breast Cancer Risk And Breast Density: Is Age A Factor
Mayfair Oct 01, 2021
Like the rest of your body, breast tissue changes with age. Changes in firmness and size are a normal part of aging, especially after menopause.
However, the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, breast cancer will affect one in eight women in Canada. It typically occurs in women between 50 and 69 years of age, but can certainly occur in the younger age groups.
Some changes to the breast can be a sign of health problems. You should speak to your health care practitioner if you are experiencing any of the following changes to your breasts:
- New lump in your breast or your armpit.
- New redness or flaking skin on your breast or nipple.
- Thickening or swelling of your breast.
- Nipple discharge.
- Breast pain.
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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.
Who Is At High Risk 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.
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What Is Breast Cancer Pain Like
A cancerous lump may feel rounded, soft, and tender and can occur anywhere in the breast. In some cases, the lump can even be painful. Feeling lumps or changes in your breasts may be more difficult if this is the case. Having dense breasts also makes it more difficult to detect breast cancer on mammograms.
What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Is It Curable
According to the most recent studies, breast cancer is a life-threatening disease in women and the top cause of death among the female population. For the past two decades, breast cancer research has led to remarkable advances in our understanding of the disease, leading to more effective therapies. Among all malignant illnesses, breast cancer is one of the major causes of mortality in postmenopausal women, accounting for 23% of all cancer fatalities. It is now a global concern, yet it is still identified in its advanced stages due to womens carelessness in self-inspection and clinical examination of the breast.
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Can Mammogram Technician See Cancer
After a screening mammogram, the technician will look at your X-rays to make sure they don’t need to be retaken. Technicians don’t examine the X-ray for signs of cancer a doctor called a radiologist will do that after your appointment is over. A radiologist might be present during a diagnostic mammogram.
Should Women Under Age 40 Get Mammograms
In general, regular mammograms are not recommended for women under 40 years old, in part, because breast tissue tends to be more dense in young women, making mammograms less effective as a screening tool. In addition, most experts believe the low risk of developing breast cancer at a young age does not justify the radiation exposure or the cost of mammography. However, screening mammograms may be recommended for younger women with a family history of breast cancer and other risk factors.
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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.
Research Into Breast Cancer
Early detection and better treatment have improved survival for people with breast cancer. Research for breast cancer is ongoing. The Cancer Research UK website has information about research into breast cancer.
Clinical trials can test the effectiveness of promising new treatments or new ways of combining cancer treatments. Always discuss treatment options with your doctor.
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How Prevalent Is Breast Cancer In Younger Women
The exact age considered young for having breast cancer varies. However, most scientific studies refer to younger women with breast cancer as those younger than 35, 40, or 45 years of age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about 255,000 womenTrusted Source and 2,300 men receive a breast cancer diagnosis every year in the United States.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women and the leading cause of cancer-related death among Hispanic women. In addition, Black women die from breast cancer more often than white women.
CDC data also show that, in the U.S., 9%Trusted Source of all new breast cancer diagnoses occur in women younger than 45 years of age. Women in this age group are also more likely to experience poor outcomes from the condition.
Furthermore, the mortality risk for young women with breast cancer may vary depending on where they live, according to one study.
In research that appears in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, scientists examined data looking for differences in breast cancer incidence among women 2049 years of age. In that age group, around 77% of breast cancer diagnoses occurred in women ages 4049 years.
The researchers also found that in women younger than 45 years of age, breast cancer occurrence was higher among Black women. Additionally, Black, American or Alaska Indigenous, and Hispanic women had more late stage breast cancer diagnoses than white women.