Are You at Risk for Breast Cancer? - Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

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Published on October 10, 2016

Are You at Risk for Breast Cancer?

Any woman may develop breast cancer; however, the following risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing the disease.

Risk Factors that Can't Be Changed

  • Age – Beginning at about age 45, the risk of cancer begins to rapidly rise.
  • Gender – Breast cancer occurs nearly 100 times more often in women than in men.
  • Race or Ethnicity – Caucasian women have an increased risk of breast cancer; however, African-American women tend to die of breast cancer more often. Hispanic, Native American, and Asian women have a lower risk for developing breast cancer and dying from it.
  • Family or Personal History – Having a close relative, such as a mother or sister, with breast cancer increases your risk. This includes changes in certain genes, such as BRCA1, BRCA2 and others.
  • Previous Breast Irradiation
  • Benign Breast Disease – Women with certain benign breast conditions (such as hyperplasia or atypical hyperplasia) have an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Dense Breast Tissue – Breast tissue may look dense or fatty on a mammogram. Older women with high dense breast tissue are at increased risk.
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES) Exposure – Women who took this drug while pregnant (to lower the chance of miscarriage) are at higher risk. The possible effect on their daughters is under study.
  • Early Menstrual Periods – Women whose periods began early in life (before age 12) have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.
  • Late Menopause – Women are at a slightly higher risk if they began menopause after age 55.

Lifestyle-Related Risk Factors

  • Not having children or having your first child after age 30
  • Recent use (within 10 years) of oral contraceptives
  • Physical inactivity
  • Alcohol use (more than 1 drink per day)
  • Weight gain and obesity, especially after menopause

Your Next Steps

It's important to talk with your doctor about your risk developing breast cancer and to develop a screening plan that's right for you. Don't have a primary care doctor? Find one now.

For More Information

Schedule a Mammogram

All Saints: 262-687-2600
Elmbrook Memorial: 414-527-5000
Franklin: 414-527-5000
St. Francis: 414-527-5000
St. Joseph: 414-527-5000
Wauwatosa Outpatient Center: 414-527-5000

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Are You at Risk for Breast Cancer?