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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Breast Cancer - What Increases Your Risk

Although the exact cause of breast cancer is not known, most experts agree that several things can increase your risk of breast cancer.

Top risk factors linked to breast cancer

  • Aging. Your breast cancer risk increases as you get older. By age group, breast cancer is diagnosed in:2
    • 4 out of 1,000 women in their 30s.
    • 15 out of 1,000 women in their 40s.
    • 24 out of 1,000 women in their 50s.
    • 36 out of 1,000 women in their 60s.
    • 38 out of 1,000 women in their 70s.
  • Being female. Although breast cancer can occur in men, most breast cancer is found in women.

Conditions that can raise your risk of breast cancer

  • Personal history. Women who have dense breasts, a breast disease that is not cancer, or who have had breast cancer before have an increased risk.
  • Family history. A woman's risk of breast cancer increases if her mother, sister, daughter, or two or more other close relatives, such as cousins, have a history of breast cancer, especially if they were diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 or younger.
    • A small number of women who have a family history of breast cancer have inherited changes to certain genes, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, that increase their breast cancer risk.
    • Genetic tests are available to find out if you have the genetic mutations long before any cancer appears.
      Breast Cancer Risk: Should I Have a BRCA Gene Test?
  • Breast changes. Some breast changes, such as having atypical hyperplasia, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), increase a woman's risk for breast cancer.
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