My Risk for Breast Cancer

While evaluating if you are at an increased risk for breast cancer, multiple factors play a role – some are controllable, while others are not. With so many factors to consider, it can be difficult and confusing to determine what your own risk may be. You should consult with your physician to discuss your specific risks and appropriate plan for screening.

  • Age - Risk increases with age.
  • Genetic mutation - Inherited changes in certain genes including BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase risk.
  • Mammographic breast density.
  • Family history - A woman's chances of developing breast cancer increases if her mother, sister and/or daughter have been diagnosed with the disease - especially if they were diagnosed before age 50. Having a close male blood relative with breast cancer also increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Race - In the U.S., breast cancer is diagnosed more often in white women than in African American/black, Hispanic/Latina, Asian/Pacific Islander, or American Indian/Alaska Native Women.
  • Personal history - Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to develop a second breast cancer.
  • Certain breast changes found on biopsy.
  • Radiation Therapy - Women who have had radiation therapy to the chest, including the breasts, before age 30 have an increased risk of developing breast cancer throughout their lives.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Reproductive and menstrual history - Women who had their first menstrual period before age 12 or went through menopause after 55 have an increased risk. Also at increased risk are women who had their first full-term pregnancy after age 30 or who have never had a full-term pregnancy.
  • Long-term use of menopausal hormone therapy.
  • DES - Women who took DES - a drug given to women to prevent miscarriage between 1940 and 1971 - have a slightly increased risk. Women exposed to DES in utero - meaning whose mothers took DES while they were pregnant - may have a slightly increased risk after age 40.
  • Obesity.
  • Physical activity level - Women who are physically inactive throughout life may have an increased risk.

For a referral to a RWJBarnabas Health primary care physician or breast specialist, call 888-724-7123.