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More Information on Breast Cancer Risk Factors

The following sections provide additional information on specific risk factors for breast cancer.
The chance of getting breast cancer increases as a woman gets older. Most cases occur in women over age 60. This disease is not common before menopause.
Personal History of Breast Cancer
A woman who had the disease in one breast has an increased risk of getting cancer in her other breast.
Family History of the Disease
A woman's risk of breast cancer is higher if her mother, sister, or daughter had the disease. The risk is higher if her family member got breast cancer before age 40. Having other relatives with the condition (in either her mother's or father's family) may also increase a woman's risk.
Certain Breast Changes
Some women have cells in the breast that look abnormal under a microscope. Having certain types of abnormal cells (for example, atypical hyperplasia and lobular carcinoma in situ -- LCIS) can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Gene Changes
Changes in certain genes can increase the risk of breast cancer. These genes include BRCA1, BRCA2, and others. Tests can sometimes show the presence of specific gene changes in families with many women who have had breast cancer. Healthcare providers may suggest ways to try to reduce the risk, or to improve the detection of this disease in women who have these changes in their genes.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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