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What Puts You at Increased Risk of Breast Cancer?

October 11th, 2017

1 in 8.

That’s how many women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Even though you can’t prevent cancer, you can be proactive when it comes to your health. Breast cancer starts when abnormal cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. They usually form a tumor – that can often be felt or seen on an x-ray. The first step in protecting yourself against breast cancer is understanding your risk for developing this disease. 

The Risks are Real

Some risk factors you can control – like smoking. Others – like your genetics and family history – are not. It’s worth noting all the ways you’re at risk for developing breast cancer, because studies have shown that your overall risk is due to not just one, but a combination of risk factors. 

The Centers for Disease Control highlights risk factors:  

  • Aging. Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50, and your risk for developing the condition increases with age. 

  • Your genetics. Changes or mutations in certain genes – such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 – that are inherited increase your risk. 

  • Family history or personal history of breast cancer. If you mom, sister, or daughter (considered a first-degree relative) is diagnosed, you’re at increased risk. And if several people in either side of your parent’s family have been diagnosed, that also increases your chances of developing the condition. If you’ve had breast cancer yourself, the likelihood that you’ll get breast cancer again also grows.

  • Neglecting your health. Not being physically active can play a role in your overall breast cancer risk. Women who are overweight or obese have a greater risk than women who maintain a normal weight. Drinking alcohol also plays a role. 
See the CDC's full list here. 

Talking with Your Doctor is KeY

Having risk factors doesn’t mean you’ll get breast cancer, but it does give you the opportunity to talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and what screening is appropriate for you. And if you do suspect a breast problem, USA surgeons who specialize in breast disease offer comprehensive evaluations including breast lumps, abnormal mammograms, breast pain, nipple drainage and evaluation of patients with strong family history of breast cancer. Learn more about our breast services here, or call (423) 267-0466 to schedule an appointment today. 

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