- Age – Risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. The majority of breast cancer cases occur in women over 50.
- Menstrual Periods – Women who started menstruating at an early age (before age 12) or who went through menopause at a late age (after age 55) have a
slightly higher risk of breast cancer.
- Not Having Children (or Having Them Later in Life) – Women who have had no children or who had their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher breast
- Genetic Risk Factors – The most common inherited
mutations are those of the BRCA 1 and 2 genes.
Other genes have also been discovered.
- Family History of Breast Cancer – Having one
first-degree relative (mother, daughter, sister) with
breast cancer approximately doubles a woman’s
- Personal History of Breast Cancer – A woman with
cancer in one breast has a three– to fourfold
increased risk of developing a new breast cancer.
- Previous Radiation Therapy to Chest – Women
who, as children or young adults, had radiation
therapy to the chest area as treatment for another
cancer (such as Hodgkin’s disease) are at significantly
- Oral Contraceptive Use – Studies suggest that
women taking oral contraceptives have a slightly
- Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy – Long-term
use (several years or more) of combined postmenopausal
hormone therapy increases the risk
of breast cancer.
- Alcohol Use – Use of alcohol is clearly linked to an
increased risk of developing breast cancer. The risk
increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
- Overweight/Obesity – Being overweight or obese
has been found to increase breast cancer risk,
especially for women after menopause.
- Physical Inactivity – Evidence is growing that physical
activity in the form of exercise reduces breast
Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tools
Several different programs and interactive
tools are available for calculating a woman’s
breast cancer risk. Each of the risk models
listed below can be used for the purpose of
identifying patients who would benefit from
breast MRI screening. A woman with a lifetime
risk greater than 20 percent should have an
annual breast MRI.