Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may help prevent cancer.
Avoiding cancer risk factors may help prevent certain cancers. Risk factors include smoking, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise. Increasing protective factors such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising may also help prevent some cancers. Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about how you might lower your risk of cancer.
WebMD senior writer Miranda Hitti interviewed breast cancer survivors as part of a series for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The series, called “Me & the Girls,” explores the personal stories of these women after they were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Breast cancer survivor Erica Seymore, 34, lives in the Miami area. She never felt any lumps in her breast. But she noticed a red, itchy mark on her left breast, and also felt some pain that would come and go in that breast. "It would...
NCI's Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool uses a woman's risk factors to estimate her risk for breast cancer during the next five years and up to age 90. This online tool is meant to be used by a health care provider. For more information on breast cancer risk, call 1-800-4-CANCER.
The following are risk factors for breast cancer:
Being female and older age
Being female and older age are the main risk factors for breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer in a 70 year old woman is about 10 times that of a 30 year old woman.
Over her lifetime, a woman's risk of developing breast cancer is about one hundred times a man's risk.
A personal or family history of breast cancer or benign (noncancer) breast disease
Women with any of the following have an increased risk of breast cancer:
A personal history of benign (noncancer) breast disease.
A family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter).
Inherited gene changes
Women who have inherited certain changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2genes have a higher risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and maybe colon cancer. The risk of breast cancer caused by inherited gene changes depends on the type of gene mutation, family history of cancer, and other factors. Men who have inherited certain changes in the BRCA2 gene have a higher risk of breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancers, and lymphoma.
Breast density is a factor in breast cancer risk. The level of risk depends on how dense the breast tissue is. Women with very dense breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer than women with low breast density.