Breast Cancer Risk Factors

It is known that breast cancer is more common in women with certain characteristics. Having characteristics that are considered risk factors for breast cancer does not necessarily mean that you will develop breast cancer. However, they are more likely to catch it than other women. Not having these risk factors does not mean that you cannot get cancer. Many women with breast cancer do not have any of these risk factors.

Half of women who develop breast cancer do not have these risk factors at all. Therefore, people who do not have risk factors should also have their usual check-ups. But women with more than one of these risk factors should be more careful.

Age: Age alone is one of the most important risk factors for the development of breast cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. However, breast cancers are seen at younger ages in our country compared to western societies. Seventy percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50.

According to a study published by the American Cancer Institute, a 20-year-old woman has a 1 in 2187 chance of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years. This proportion increases with age, with 258 women at age 30, 67 women at age 40, 38 women at age 50, 29 women at age 60 and 25 women at age 70.

Family History of Breast Cancer: 1, especially on the maternal side. Having a history of breast cancer in a degree relative (mother, aunt, grandmother, sister, daughter) is recognized as an important risk factor. If these relatives had breast cancer before menopause and have bilateral breast cancer, the risk is even higher. Conditions that further increase the familial risk or suggest that the cancer may be familial include (1) more than one close relative has breast cancer, (2) it occurs at a young age, and (3) the disease is bilateral.

10-15% of breast cancers are familial. Recognizing those with a genetic predisposition to breast cancer is very important because these women have a 40-60% chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.

The two genes that have been linked to breast cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women with mutations in these genes have a much higher risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer than women without these mutations.

Personal history of breast cancer: A woman who develops cancer in one breast has a higher risk of developing cancer in the other breast than other women in the community. In addition, ovarian, uterine and colon cancer also increase the risk of breast cancer.

Hormonal Factors (Estrogen): Early menarche (first menstruation before age 12) and late menopause (after age 55), delayed first full pregnancy (after age 35) and never having given birth to a child increase the risk of breast cancer.

The use of birth control pills and the use of external hormone medications for menopause treatment are also considered risk factors, although still controversial.

Some benign breast diseases: A small proportion of benign breast diseases are risk factors for developing breast cancer.

Having had a breast biopsy: Moderate hyperplasia detected in breast biopsies increases the risk of breast cancer by 1.5-2 times (mild), atypical ductal hyperplasia by 3-5 times (moderate) and lobular carcinoma in situ (non-invasive) or the presence of atypical ductal hyperplasia or lobular hyperplasia with family history increases the risk by 8-10 times (high).

Irradiation – Radiation (Radiotherapy): The risk of developing breast cancer later in life is increased in those who have undergone radiotherapy to the breast area in the first 30 years of life and in those who have been treated for lymphoma. This risk is particularly high in those who had radiotherapy before the age of 15. However, the radiation dose used to visualize breast tissue (mammography) is too low to pose a risk of developing breast cancer.

Diet and Environmental Factors: A diet rich in fat and weight gain increase the risk of breast cancer, especially in menopausal women. Alcohol use (more than one glass a day) again increases the risk, while the effect of smoking is still debated. Regular exercise and physical activity are known to reduce the risk of breast cancer.