At Beacon Health System, we give you the information and tools you need to support your breast health. While our primary goal is prevention and early detection, we also provide leading-edge breast cancer care.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
What is a risk factor? A risk factor is any situation that predisposes an individual to the chance of developing a disease. The following risk factors have been associated with an increased incidence of breast cancer.
- Age – Most symptoms of breast disease appear in women over age 35, with women over age 50 being at greatest risk for developing breast cancer. There is also evidence to suggest that the age factor may be related to menopause.
- Previous Breast Cancer – The risk of contracting a second breast cancer is greater for women who have a personal history of breast cancer.
- Family History – A woman with a close relative who has had breast cancer has a two to four times increased risk of developing it. This risk is increased if relatives were diagnosed at a young age (younger than 50), if they had cancer in both breasts, and if more than one relative on the same side of the family has had cancer. About 5-10% of cancers are hereditary, meaning a person is born with a genetic change that increases their lifetime risk to develop cancer. Depending on the characteristics of the family history, genetic testing may be helpful to understand cancer risk.
- Reproductive – Women who have not had children, or those who have their first child after age 30, are usually considered at higher risk for breast cancer. On the other hand, it is thought that having a first child at an early age may have a protective effect against the disease.
- Hormonal – Early onset of the menstrual period and late menopause are associated with increased risk. Recent information has shown that there may be a slight increase in risk in women who use hormone replacement therapy for more than 10 years. Remember, although risk factors are associated with increased incidence of breast cancer, this does not necessarily mean a women will develop breast cancer. At the same time, 70 to 80 percent of women with breast cancer have no risk factors at all. The No. 1 risk for developing breast cancer is being female.
Screening and Diagnosis
There are things you can do to protect your breast health. Performing self-exams and having routine clinical breast exams and mammograms (X-rays of your breasts) can detect cancer in its earliest stages making it easier to treat. Learn more about recommended breast cancer screenings. At Beacon, we’re nationally recognized for our breast imaging services. Schedule a Screening Mammogram
Our Breast Cancer Services
We deliver comprehensive screenings, diagnosis and treatment including:
If you have an increased risk for breast cancer, our genetic counselor can advise you about how to protect your health.
We understand that cancer affects more than just your body. That’s why we also offer complementary support services, educational resources and support groups to help you and your family during your cancer journey.