Breast cancer is cancer that develops from breast tissue. Signs of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in breast shape, dimpling of the skin, fluid coming from the nipple, or a red scaly patch of skin. In those with distant spread of the disease, there may be bone pain, swollen lymph nodes, shortness of breath, or yellow skin.
Do you think you stand a high chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer? Take a look at this list of factors to find out.
Every woman is potentially at risk of getting breast cancer. However, there are certain factors that would put women in a higher risk category. The risk factors include:
The risk of developing breast cancer increases as one gets older. However, 1 out of 8 invasive breast cancers are found in women younger than 45.
2. Family history
Breast cancer risk is higher among women whose close blood relatives have this disease. Having one first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child or maternal grandmother) with breast cancer approximately doubles a woman’s risk. Having 2 first-degree relatives increases her risk about three-fold.
3. Personal history
A woman with cancer in one breast has a 3-4 times increased risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast. This is different from a recurrence (return) of the first cancer.
4. Dense breast tissue
Women with dense breast tissue (as identified on a mammogram) have more glandular tissue and less fatty tissue, and have a higher risk of breast cancer. Unfortunately, dense breast tissue can also make it harder for doctors to spot problems on mammograms.
5. Overweight or obese women
Research has shown that being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast and other cancers. Now, a larger study suggests that overweight and obese women diagnosed with early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer, have a higher risk of the cancer coming back (recurrence) and are less likely to survive the disease. Healthy eating and weight management is very important.
6. Lifestyle factors
Excessive alcohol use, little to no physical activity, smoking and diets high in saturated fats increase the risk of breast cancer.
7. Radiation to chest before 30 years of age
Radiation to the chest to treat another cancer (not breast cancer), such as Hodgkin’s disease or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, results in a higher-than-average risk of breast cancer.
White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African American, Hispanic, and Asian women.
9. Hormonal environment
Women who haven’t had a full-term pregnancy or have their first child after age 30, have a higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who gave birth before age 30. Breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for longer than 1 year. Women who started menstruating (having periods) younger than age 12 have a higher risk of breast cancer later in life. The same is true for women who go through menopause when they’re older than 55. Current or recent past users of HRT have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.