Rhode Island Hospital
Providence, RI 02903
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The Miriam Hospital
164 Summit Avenue
Providence, RI 02906
A risk factor refers to anything that makes it more likely for you to get a certain disease. Some risk factors can be avoided, such as consuming alcohol; however, the majority of risk factors can't be avoided, such as a family history of breast cancer.
The two most significant risk factors for breast cancer are age (women over 50) and a family history of breast cancer. If you have a risk factor, this does not mean that you will get breast cancer. Many women with one or more risk factors never get breast cancer, and many women with breast cancer have no risk factors other than gender. If you have one or more risk factors, discuss them with your doctor.
Risk factors for breast cancer:
Age: Your chances of getting breast cancer increase as you get older.
Personal health history: If you have, or have had, breast cancer in one breast, the risk of getting cancer in your other breast increases.
Family health history: Your risk is higher if there is a history of breast cancer in your family. This risk increases further if your family member had breast cancer before the age of 50.
Certain genome changes: Changes in certain genes, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, substantially increase your risk.
Radiation therapy: If you underwent radiation therapy to the chest, including the breasts, before the age of 30 your risk increases. • Reproductive and menstrual history:
You are at increased risk for breast cancer if:
You had your first child after the age of 35 o You have never had children
You had your first menstrual period before the age of 12
You went through menopause after the age of 55
Race: Caucasian women are at increased risk.
Breast density: If you have large areas of dense tissue in your breasts, as shown through a mammogram, you are at increased risk.
Overweight after menopause: Your chances of breast cancer increase if you have gone through menopause and are overweight or obese.
Lack of physical activity: If you are physically inactive or have been for most of your life, you are at increased risk.
Consuming alcohol: If you drink alcohol daily, your chances of getting breast cancer increase.
Hormone replacement therapy: If you have received hormone therapy for five years or more, you are at increased risk.