How a Woman's Health History Affects Breast Cancer Risk
Some parts of a woman’s health history can raise her risk of getting breast cancer. These factors are often things that cannot be changed, but many women want to know about their risks. Some of the risks are:
- Age. Your risk of getting breast cancer gets higher as you get older. Most cases are diagnosed after the age of 50.
- If you had your first menstrual period before age 12, and if you start menopause after the age of 55. This is thought to be because you had a longer lifetime exposure to hormones in your body.
- Genetic mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2.
- Having a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) or a few family members on one side of your family with breast cancer.
- If you had radiation to the chest before age 30.
- DES (diethylstilbestrol) exposure. DES was a medication used between 1940-1971 to prevent miscarriage. Both women who took the medication and the daughters of the women who took the medication are at higher risk of breast cancer.
Just because you have a risk factor for breast cancer does not mean that you will get breast cancer.
Researchers have created a program called the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool. This tool looks at these factors and figures out your estimated risk of developing breast cancer in the next 5 years and in your lifetime. Learn more about the Model or use the tool.
Talk with your provider about your health history or if you have questions about your breast cancer risk.