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Understanding your breast cancer risk

Carcinoma-lobular - risk; DCIS; LCIS - risk; Ductal carcinoma in situ - risk; Lobular carcinoma in situ - risk; Breast cancer - prevention; BRCA - breast cancer risk

Breast cancer risk factors are things that increase the chance that you could get cancer. Some risk factors you can control, such as drinking alcohol. Others, such as family history, you cannot control.

The more risk factors you have, the more your risk increases. However, it does not mean you absolutely will get cancer. Many women who get breast cancer do not have any known risk factors or a family history.

Understanding your risk factors can give you a better picture of what you can do to help prevent breast cancer.

I Would Like to Learn About:

Risk Factors You Cannot Control

Risk factors you cannot control include:

Risk Factors You Can Control

Risk factors you can control include:

How to Reduce Your Risk

Just because you have risk factors you cannot control does not mean you cannot take steps to lower your risk. Start by making certain lifestyle changes and working with your health care provider. Here are some things you can do to lower your risk for breast cancer:

Some areas are unknown or not yet proven. Studies are looking at things like smoking, diet, chemicals, and types of birth control pills as potential risk factors. Talk to your provider if you are interested in joining a clinical trial for breast cancer prevention.

When to Call the Doctor

You should call your provider if:

References

Henry NL, Shah PD, Haider I, Freer PE, Jagsi R, Sabel MS. Cancer of the breast. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 88.

Moyer VA; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Risk assessment, genetic counseling, and genetic testing for BRCA-related cancer in women: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2014;160(4):271-281. PMID: 24366376 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24366376/.

National Cancer Institute website. Breast cancer prevention (PDQ) - health professional version. www.cancer.gov/types/breast/hp/breast-prevention-pdq. Updated April 29, 2020. Accessed October 24, 2020.

Siu AL; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for breast cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2016;164(4):279-296. PMID: 26757170 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26757170/.

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Review Date: 7/28/2020  

Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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