Risks

Risks

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Each year more than 47, 800 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer.

According to the Cancer Research UK, each year more than 47, 800 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s more than five every hour. Regardless of these numbers, your individual risk may be higher or lower depending on many different factors, like family history, reproductive history, lifestyle, environment and others.

Although many risk factors may increase your chance of developing breast cancer, it is not yet known exactly how some of these risk factors cause cells to become cancerous.

Risk Factors You Cannot Change

  • Age: The chance of getting breast cancer increases as a woman gets older. Around 4 out of 5 women diagnosed with the disease are aged 50 or older.
  • Genetic risk factors: The most common gene mutations are those of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes raise breast cancer risk.
  • Family history: Breast cancer risk is higher among women whose close blood relatives have this disease. The relatives can be from either the mother's or father's side of the family. Having a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer about doubles a woman's risk.
  • Personal history of breast cancer: A woman with cancer in one breast has a greater chance of getting a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast. This is different from a return of the first cancer (which is called recurrence).
  • Race: White women are more likely to get breast cancer than most other races. African American women are more likely to suffer terminal versions of breast cancer. Asian, Hispanic, and American Indian women have a lower risk of breast cancer.
  • Dense breast tissue: Dense breast tissue means there is more glandular tissue and less fatty tissue. Women with denser breast tissue have a higher risk of breast cancer. Dense breast tissue can also make it harder for doctors to spot problems on mammograms.
  • Menstrual periods: According to the Breast Cancer Research UK women who began having periods before the age of 12 or who went through menopause after the age of 55 have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. They have had more menstrual periods and as a result have been exposed to more of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
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