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Who Is Most At Risk For Breast Cancer

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Prevention

Mayo Clinic Minute: Breast cancer is a risk for men

There is no known way to prevent the development of inflammatory breast cancer. Additionally, there are no standardized screening tests specifically for inflammatory breast cancer a mammogram, for instance, does not always detect it. The best way to combat this form of cancer is to become familiar with its symptoms and report any signs to a physician, as early detection is beneficial in ensuring a positive outcome and quality of life.

Older Age At First Giving Birth

Breast cancer risk increases by 3% for each year older a woman is when she first gives birth, a meta-analysis showed. The association may be limited to ER/PR-positive tumours. ER/PR-positive breast cancer risk is 15% higher in women who first gave birth at an older age, compared with those who did so at a younger age, a meta-analysis showed. HER2-positive and triple-negative breast cancers are not associated with age at first birth.

Conversely among BRCA1 mutation carriers, breast cancer risk may be lower in those who are older at first birth, meta-analyses have shown among BRCA2 carriers, breast cancer risk is not associated with age at first birth.

Having Dense Breast Tissue

Breasts are made up of fatty tissue, fibrous tissue, and glandular tissue. Breasts appear denser on a mammogram when they have more glandular and fibrous tissue and less fatty tissue. Women with dense breasts on mammogram have a risk of breast cancer that is about 1 1/2 to 2 times that of women with average breast density. Unfortunately, dense breast tissue can also make it harder to see cancers on mammograms.

A number of factors can affect breast density, such as age, menopausal status, the use of certain drugs , pregnancy, and genetics.

To learn more, see our information on breast density and mammograms.

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Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Many women who develop breast cancer do not have any known risk factors. Still, we know that women who possess certain risk factors are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer than the general population. Although some women who have one or more risk factors may never develop breast cancer, we can use the knowledge of these risk factors to target higher-risk women with increased breast surveillance and breast cancer prevention strategies.

Certain, unavoidable risk factors such as gender and age make us all susceptible to breast cancer. Other risk factors, such as family history, are also factors that we cannot change. However, research has shown that there are some risk factors, including alcohol intake and body weight, which are modifiable.

Below you will find a summary of the factors that increase risk for developing breast cancer, including both factors that we cannot change and those we can.

Who Is Most At Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer: Causes and Risk Factors

1. The strongest risk factor for breast cancer is age. Therefore, older women are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer than younger women.

2. Another significant risk factor is carrying a gene that predisposes to the development of breast cancer, such as the BRCA 1 and 2 genes. Related to carrying a gene that causes breast cancer, having a strong family history of breast cancer also increases a persons risk. Women who carry a gene that causes breast cancer or women who have a strong family history of breast cancer are at higher risk than women who do not.

3. Another risk factor for breast cancer is having a history of a breast biopsy that showed atypical cells, such as atypical ductal hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ.

4. Lastly, there are several risk factors associated with a woman’s exposure to hormones throughout her lifetime, such as early menarche, number of pregnancies, whether or not a woman has breastfed, late menopause, that impact breast cancer risk. The more a woman has been exposed to estrogen and the more menstrual cycles she has experienced, the higher her risk of developing breast cancer.

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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.

European Region Has Highest Rate Of Breast Cancer In World: Who

Alcohol one of biggest risk factors for disease, says World Health Organization


The World Health Organization said Wednesday that its European region has the highest rate of new breast cancer diagnoses compared to the rest of the world, and alcohol is one of the biggest risk factors for the disease.

In a statement, the WHO said that in its European region that includes 53 countries and extends from Greenland in the northwest to the Russian Far East, 1,579 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every day.

Alcohol consumption is one of the major modifiable risk factors for the disease, causing seven of every 100 new breast cancer cases in the Region, said the WHO.

WHO encourages everyone to understand that the risk of breast cancer can be significantly reduced by simply reducing alcohol consumption.

According to estimates from the International Agency for Research on Cancer , in 2020, alcohol consumption was responsible for almost 40,000 new breast cancer cases in the European region.

Many people, including women, are not aware that breast cancer is the most common cancer caused by alcohol among women globally, said Dr. Marlys Corbex, an expert on noncommunicable diseases for WHO/Europe.

People need to know that by reducing alcohol consumption, they can reduce their risk of getting cancer. It doesn’t matter what type, quality, or price alcohol is, Corbex said.

The data cited by the WHO shows that breast cancer has become the most common cancer globally.

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Why Is Screening So Important

While some tumors in the breast are aggressive and grow quickly, most grow slowly. In some cases a tumor may have been growing for as long as 10 years before it creates a lump large enough to feel. That means that even if you know whats normal for your breasts and notice when something changes, you may not feel anything until the cancers been growing for a while.

Screening tests can find breast cancer early, when the chances of survival are highest. They can find breast cancer in a person who doesnt have any early signs or symptoms. For people at a higher risk, more frequent screening can mean that if they do develop cancer, they can find it and treat it sooner.

What Does This Mean For Me

Does Wearing a Bra Increase Breast Cancer Risk?

Most early-stage breast cancer will respond well to treatment without recurrence. However, some early-stage breast cancers may recur. For this reason, current guidelines recommend follow-up doctor visits after treatment. Finding recurrence earlier may provide patients with more treatment options. Once your treatment ends, it is important to speak with your doctor about your post-treatment follow up care, including a discussion of:

  • frequency of follow up visits
  • which providers you should see
  • what tests will be ordered
  • any symptoms you should report to your doctor

Research on ctDNA detection as a tool to monitor relapse is ongoing. While this test is promising, it has not yet been shown to improve survival outcomes in patients. Longer follow-up to ctDNA testing is needed to determine if this information may be clinically useful.

This article is relevant for:

People with early-stage breast cancer

This article is also relevant for:

Breast cancer survivors

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Making Sense Of Your Risk Factors

Figuring out your breast cancer risk isnt simple, so its important to work with your doctor to do it. Doctors often use The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool to estimate risk, but this model may not be the most accurate tool for black women. There are other risk assessment tools out there, so talk to your doctor about which might work best for you.

You can prepare for a conversation with your doctor with this Know Your Risk tool. There are also online tools to estimate risk specifically related to family history and inherited gene mutations.

Risk Factors For Breast Cancer In Men

A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease, such as breast cancer.

But having a risk factor, or even many, does not mean that you are sure to get the disease. Some men with one or more breast cancer risk factors never develop the disease, while most men with breast cancer have no apparent risk factors.

We don’t yet completely understand the causes of breast cancer in men, but researchers have found several factors that may increase the risk of getting it. As with female breast cancer, many of these factors are related to your body’s sex hormone levels.

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Light Exposure At Night

The results of several studies suggest that women who work at night factory workers, doctors, nurses, and police officers, for example have a higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who work during the day. Other research suggests that women who live in areas with high levels of external light at night have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Cell Lines

Breast cancer is now officially the world

Part of the current knowledge on breast carcinomas is based on in vivo and in vitro studies performed with cell lines derived from breast cancers. These provide an unlimited source of homogenous self-replicating material, free of contaminating stromal cells, and often easily cultured in simple standard media. The first breast cancer cell line described, BT-20, was established in 1958. Since then, and despite sustained work in this area, the number of permanent lines obtained has been strikingly low . Indeed, attempts to culture breast cancer cell lines from primary tumors have been largely unsuccessful. This poor efficiency was often due to technical difficulties associated with the extraction of viable tumor cells from their surrounding stroma. Most of the available breast cancer cell lines issued from metastatic tumors, mainly from pleural effusions. Effusions provided generally large numbers of dissociated, viable tumor cells with little or no contamination by fibroblasts and other tumor stroma cells.Many of the currently used BCC lines were established in the late 1970s. A very few of them, namely MCF-7, T-47D, MDA-MB-231 and SK-BR-3, account for more than two-thirds of all abstracts reporting studies on mentioned breast cancer cell lines, as concluded from a Medline-based survey.

Metabolic markers

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    Documented Risk Factors For Breast Cancer

    Documented risk factors for breast cancer are shown in , arranged roughly in order of relative risk. Relative risk denotes the risk for an individual who is positive for a factor versus the risk for an individual who is negative for a factor. A relative risk of 1 indicates that there is no increased risk, whereas a relative risk of 10 indicates that there is a 10-fold increase in risk.


    * There is controversy over whether pathologic hyperplasia detected in breast biopsy samples is directly equivalent to cytologic hyperplasia detected in samples obtained through FNA or nipple aspiration.

    Begg has suggested that these relative risks are subject to ascertainment bias and may overestimate the true risk associated with germline mutations in BRCA genes.


    One of the best-documented risk factors for breast cancer is age. As seen in , the incidence of breast cancer is extremely low before age 30 , after which it increases linearly until the age of 80, reaching a plateau of slightly less than 500 cases per 100,000. If all women less than 65 years of age are compared with women aged 65 or older, the relative risk of breast cancer associated with increased age is 5.8.

    Figure 1. Breast cancer incidence as a function of age.

    Lifestyle and Environmental Factors

    Alcohol Consumption
    Body Mass Index
    Hormone Replacement Therapy

    Radiation Exposure

    Reproductive Factors

    Prior History of Neoplastic Disease or Hyperplasia in the Breast


    Inflammatory Breast Cancer Risk Factors

    There are several inflammatory breast cancer risk factors that have been identified. Because this form of cancer is not usually detected until symptoms are already presenting, an awareness of breast changes and an understanding of the risk factors are vital to discovering the cancer when the likelihood of successful treatment is highest. It is important for all women to become familiar with how their breasts look and feel, perform monthly self-exams and report anything unusual to a physician. Additionally, women with certain risk factors are encouraged to be especially vigilant.

    Anything that increases an individuals chance of developing cancer is considered to be a risk factor. Research studies have recognized the following risk factors for inflammatory breast cancer:

    Knowledge about the risk factors for inflammatory breast cancer can help a woman understand her likelihood of developing the condition.

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    Having A Family History Of Breast Cancer

    Its important to note that most women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. But women who have close blood relatives with breast cancer have a higher risk:

    • Having a first-degree relative with breast cancer almost doubles a womans risk. Having 2 first-degree relatives increases her risk about 3-fold.
    • Women with a father or brother who has had breast cancer also have a higher risk of breast cancer.

    Overall, about 15% of women with breast cancer have a family member with this disease.

    A Family History Of Breast Cancer

    Breast cancer: signs, symptoms & risk factors

    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.

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    Risk Factors For Breast Cancer

    Not all women have the same risk for developing breast cancer over a lifetime. Certain factors increase a womans risk, and some have a bigger impact on risk than others. However, having several risk factors doesnt mean youll inevitably develop breast cancer. Likewise, having few risk factors doesnt mean that youll never develop it.

    Many risk factors, such as age and gender, are not within our control. Others, especially those related to personal behaviors, can be modified.

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    Having Certain Benign Breast Conditions

    Women diagnosed with certain benign breast conditions may have a higher risk of breast cancer. Some of these conditions are more closely linked to breast cancer risk than others. Doctors often divide benign breast conditions into 3 groups, depending on how they affect this risk.

    Non-proliferative lesions: These conditions dont seem to affect breast cancer risk, or if they do, the increase in risk is very small. They include:

    • Fibrosis and/or simple cysts
    • Mild hyperplasia
    • Epithelial-related calcifications
    • Other tumors

    Mastitis is not a tumor and does not increase the risk of breast cancer.

    Proliferative lesions without atypia : In these conditions theres excessive growth of cells in the ducts or lobules of the breast, but the cells don’t look very abnormal. These conditions seem to raise a womans risk of breast cancer slightly. They include:

    • Usual ductal hyperplasia
    • Fibroadenoma
    • Several papillomas
    • Radial scar

    Proliferative lesions with atypia: In these conditions, the cells in the ducts or lobules of the breast tissue grow excessively, and some of them no longer look normal. These types of lesions include:

    Breast cancer risk is about 4 to 5 times higher than normal in women with these changes. If a woman also has a family history of breast cancer and either hyperplasia or atypical hyperplasia, she has an even higher risk of breast cancer.

    For more information, see Non-cancerous Breast Conditions.

    Lobular carcinoma in situ

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    Your Personal History Of Breast Cancer

    If youve been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past, you are more likely to develop a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast. This is not considered a recurrence but a new breast cancer.

    What to do: Follow your cancer teams instructions on monitoring to stay on top of this risk. Ask your doctor whether you should see a genetic counselor.

    Family History And Inherited Genes

    Breast Cancer Overview

    Some people have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than the general population because other members of their family have had particular cancers. This is called a family history of cancer.

    Having a mother, sister or daughter diagnosed with breast cancer increases the risk of breast cancer. This risk is higher when more close relatives have breast cancer, or if a relative developed breast cancer under the age of 50. But most women who have a close relative with breast cancer will never develop it.

    Some people have an increased risk of breast cancer because they have an inherited gene fault. We know about several gene faults that can increase breast cancer risk and there are tests for some of them. Having one of these faulty genes means that you are more likely to get breast cancer than someone who doesnt. But it is not a certainty.

    Two of these faulty genes are known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. These are not common. Only about 2 out of every hundred of breast cancers are related to a change in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

    Ionising radiation includes tests such as x-rays and CT scans and treatment such as radiotherapy.

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