How to Calculate Your Risk for Breast Cancer

Breast cancer awareness ribbon

Anyone can develop breast cancer —even men. However, the disease is 100 times more common in women. Among women, there are those who are particularly susceptible to developing breast cancer. That’s why the cancer care team at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center wishes to spread important information on risk factors. While the following factors indicate risk, their presence does not guarantee the development of cancer, nor does their absence make women safe from this disease.

Family History
Genetic mutation is the most common cause of breast cancer, which means women with a family history of the disease carry a higher risk. If one person in your immediate family has had breast cancer, your risk doubles; if two people in your family have had it, your risk triples.   

Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you age. That’s why cancer care doctors recommend that women start getting annual mammograms at age 40—sometimes sooner. Doctors find two out of three invasive cancers in women over the age of 55.  

Women who have menstruated for a longer period of time, and thus had more exposure to estrogen and progesterone, may be more at risk of developing cancer. If you began menstruating before the age of 12, or if you began menopause past 55, you should ask a doctor about your potential risk.   

Lifestyle Factors
Not all risk factors are unchangeable; there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer. This includes exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting your alcohol consumption. To find out how else you can help prevent breast cancer, ask your doctor.

If you know the risk factors for breast cancer and are vigilant about annual mammograms, you can have cancer care doctors identify and treat the disease before it’s too late. If you have any lingering questions about breast cancer, don’t hesitate to call West Hills Hospital & Medical Center at (818) 676-4000. You might also try our Consult-A-Nurse Healthcare Referral Line.

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