By now, many people are aware that having a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene increases the risk of getting breast cancer. What about other factors that increase risk?
There are a number of things to consider, some of which we have control over and some of which we don’t.
Factors that are in the realm of our control
- alcohol intake
- weight control
- some environmental factors
- lifestyle choices
- taking certain drugs (such as post menopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- some reproductive decisions
Factors outside of our control
- age of 1st period
- dense breast tissue
- family history of breast cancer
- prior exposure to certain drugs (such as DES)
- having had previous chest radiation (such as for the treatment of Hodgkin Disease or Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma)
- having had “abnormal cells” on a previous breast biopsy
- having an inherited genetic mutation (such as in BRCA or in another cancer susceptibility gene)
Should you be evaluated further?
Of the many factors that increase breast cancer risk, a few stand out and increase risk enough to warrant a more in-depth evaluation. If you have any of the following you would benefit from Cancer Risk Assessment:
- a family history of breast cancer
- a previous breast biopsy showing “abnormal” cells
- previous chest wall radiation (e.g. – mantle) prior to age 30
- a personal or family history suggestive of an inherited genetic mutation or a previously identified mutation is the family (such as in the BRCA genes or other cancer susceptibility genes)