Breast Cancer Risk Assessment
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women (other than skin cancer). The American Cancer Society reports the breast cancer death rate is declining, probably due to earlier detection and improved treatment. This short assessment will help you determine if you have major risk factors for breast cancer. It is not a complete assessment of all risks. For a complete evaluation of your risks, see your health care provider.
Because of your age, your immediate risk for developing breast cancer is very low.
Because of your age, your immediate risk for developing breast cancer is low.
Because of your age alone, your immediate risk for developing breast cancer is slightly higher than for a younger woman.
Because of your age, your immediate risk for developing breast cancer is moderate. However, because you have risk factors other than age (listed below), your immediate risk is higher than others in your age group.
Because of your age alone, your immediate risk for developing breast cancer is high.
Because of your age alone, your immediate risk for developing breast cancer is high. The additional risk factors you have reported (listed below) increase that risk further over a same-age person without risk factors.
Age is the greatest risk factor for developing breast cancer. Children rarely develop breast cancer. In fact, the incidence doesn't begin to rise until around age 17, but even then the incidence is low. Beginning about age 45, the risk begins to rise rapidly.
Age is the greatest risk factor for developing breast cancer. Children rarely develop breast cancer. In fact, the incidence doesn't begin to rise until around age 17, but even then the incidence is low. Between the ages of 45 and 65, your immediate risk of developing breast cancer increases, especially for women who have risk factors other than age. According to the American Cancer Society, about 18 percent of breast cancer is diagnosed in women in this age range.
Age is the greatest risk factor for developing breast cancer. Children rarely develop breast cancer. In fact, the incidence doesn't begin to rise until around age 17, but even then the incidence is low. Beyond age 45, your immediate risk of developing breast cancer increases, especially if you have other risk factors. These risk factors, especially if they are significant, will put you at increasingly higher risk as you grow older.
Age is the greatest risk factor for developing breast cancer. At age 65 or older, your risk for breast cancer increases with each passing year. According to the American Cancer Society, about 77 percent of breast cancer diagnoses occur after age 50, with the majority after age 65. Other risk factors, if they are present, become increasingly important in determining the risk of developing breast cancer in women older than 65.
Age is the greatest risk factor for developing breast cancer. At age 65 or older, your risk for breast cancer increases with each passing year. According to the American Cancer Society, about 77 percent of breast cancer diagnoses occur after age 50, with the majority after age 65. Other risk factors become increasingly important in determining the risk of developing breast cancer in women older than 65.
Because you are younger than 17, you have almost no immediate risk of developing breast cancer even if you have other risk factors, listed below. Any risk factors you do have, especially if they are significant, will put you in increasingly higher risk categories as you grow older.
Because you are not yet 45 years old, your immediate risk of developing breast cancer is low even if you have other risk factors, listed below. Any risk factors you do have, especially if they are significant, will put you in increasingly higher risk categories as you grow older.
Your risk factors and their significance, according to this assessment, are listed below.
Risk factors of high significance
Family history of breast cancer
Family history of early onset breast cancer
Personal history of uterine cancer
Personal history of ovarian cancer
Risk factors of moderate significance
Obesity: A BMI of places you in the obese category, which increases your risk moderately.
Drinking alcoholic beverages: The risk for developing breast cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed, the American Cancer Society says. If you have no more than one drink a day, or seven a week, your risk rises by only a very small amount. Women who have two to five drinks a day, or more than seven a week, have about 1-1/2 times the risk of women who don't drink.
First childbirth after age 40
Risk factors of mild significance
Ethnicity: Caucasians have an increased incidence of breast cancer when compared with African-Americans, Asians, or Hispanics. However, they have a decreased mortality when compared with the same group.
Ethnicity: African-Americans actually have a lower incidence of breast cancer than Caucasians but are diagnosed later, when the disease is more difficult to treat. As a result, they are more likely to die of the disease.
Ethnicity: Hispanics are actually about 30 percent less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than Caucasian women. However, diagnosis is usually later, when the disease is more difficult to treat. As a result, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic American/Latina women.
Overweight: A BMI of places you in the overweight category, which increases your risk slightly.
Smoking: The American Cancer Society does not consider smoking a significant risk for breast cancer but does recognize that there is conflicting evidence in the medical literature. Because smoking is clearly associated with numerous cancers, it is a good idea to do all you can to quit smoking.
First childbirth after age 30
Menarche (onset of menstruation) before age 12
Menopause after age 55
Your risk factors
You have indicated no risk factors for breast cancer.
You have indicated no risk factors for breast cancer other than age.
About risk factors and preventive screening
Some risk factors, such as age and family medical history, cannot be changed. However, others—such as weight, smoking, and alcohol consumption—can be modified. If you have risk factors that are modifiable, you should consider making lifestyle changes to reduce those risks. You should avoid alcohol, quit smoking, lose weight if you need to, and exercise regularly. If you have children, breast-feeding them for several months can reduce your breast cancer risk. After menopause, you should avoid hormone therapy. In addition, a healthy diet and adequate exercise may reduce breast cancer risk.
A large portion of the women with breast cancer have no risk factors. Having risk factors does not automatically mean that you will develop breast cancer. But having risk factors is a good reason to discuss them with your physician and schedule preventing screening.
Whether you have risk factors or not, it is important to follow the national breast cancer screening guidelines. Here are the American Cancer Society's recommendations for screenings:
- The benefits and limitations of mammography vary based on factors like age and personal risk. Experts have different recommendations for mammography. Currently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening every two years for women ages 50 to 74. The ACS recommends yearly screening for all women ages 40 and older. Women should talk with their doctors about their personal risk factors before making a decision about when to start getting mammograms or how often they should get them. (A mammogram is an X-ray of breast tissue. The X-ray is taken by compressing the breast firmly between a plastic plate and a cassette that contains special X-ray film.)
- The ACS recommends clinical breast exams (CBEs) at least every three years for all women in their 20s and 30s. The ACS recommends annual CBEs for women ages 40 and older. The USPSTF, however, believes there is not enough evidence to assess the value of CBEs for women ages 40 and older. Women should talk with their doctors about their personal risk factors and make a decision about whether they should have a CBE.
- The USPSTF does not recommend breast self-exams (BSEs) because evidence suggests BSEs do not lower risk for death from breast cancer. The ACS says BSEs are an option for women 20 and older as a means of familiarizing themselves with their breasts so they can notice changes more easily. Talking with your doctor about the benefits and limitations can help you decide if you should start performing BSEs.
- Women who are at increased risk should talk with their health care provider about whether to start mammograms at a younger age, have additional tests (such as breast ultrasound or MRI), or have more frequent exams.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional health care. Always consult with a health care provider for advice concerning your health. Only your health care provider can determine if you have breast cancer.
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This assessment is not intended to replace the evaluation of a healthcare professional.