Skip to main content

Risk Factors

Although there is great emphasis on risk factors for developing breast cancer, a great many cases occur in patients with no known risk factors, which is why doing monthly breast self exams are a vital part of breast health.

Some of the risk factors for breast cancer include:

Being female

Breast cancer is found predominantly in women and is the most common form of cancer in American women. However, men can develop breast cancer, as well.

Family History

Women who have a family history of breast cancer (mother, sister, or daughter) have a higher risk factor of developing breast cancer. However, a lack of family history does not protect you from developing breast cancer. Approximately 90%-95% of women who develop breast cancer have no family history of this disease. Additionally, having a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer genes increases your risk.

Your age

The chance of developing breast cancer increases with age. Three out of four cases occur in women over age 50. However, it is never safe to say that “you are too young to get breast cancer.

Medical Conditions

The following medical conditions have been found to increase the risk of developing breast cancer:

  • Prior personal history of breast cancer, or other abnormalities in the breast tissue
  • Breasts that have a high proportion of lobular and ductal tissue instead of fatty tissue (that is, dense breasts)
  • Previous breast exposure to radiation therapy before age 30
  • Pregnancy after age 30, or no pregnancy at all
  • Overweight, particularly after menopause
  • Increased exposure to estrogen, which includes:
    • First menstrual period before age 13
    • Menopause after age 51
    • Prolonged use of hormone replacement therapy
    • Previous biopsy results that indicate atypical hyperplasia or radial scar formation

Lifestyle

  • Drinking three or more alcoholic drinks daily
  • Having a sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking

Race

In the US, Caucasian, Hawaiian, and African-American women have the highest rates of breast cancer. The lowest rates occur among Korean, American Indian, and Vietnamese women.

Genetic Testing Services

Dr. Tyshaun James-Hart, dedicated Breast Surgeon with Women's Multi-Specialty Group, holds a bi-weekly Genetics/High Risk Clinic in her office where testing for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 is offered.

The clinic is held on Thursdays. Appointments are required. The visit is covered by most insurance. Call (337) 989-7350 for more information.