Age and health history can affect the risk of developing breast cancer. Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. As well as being aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer it is also important to be aware of the risk factors so that women get an understanding of if they are at a high risk but also so changes can be made reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. The following are the main risk factors for all breast cancers in general:
• The age at which you started your period. Women who started their period young (before 12) are at a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer
• The age at which you go through menopause. Women who go through menopause at a late age (after 55) are at a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer
• Our Reproductive Habits
• Women who delay child bearing (after 30) or have no children are at a higher risk
• The more children a woman has the lower her risk
• Women who breast feed are at a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer
• The Contraceptive Pill.
• Women who currently or recently use(d) the pill are at a slightly higher risk Hormone Replacement Therapy. This increases your risk of developing breast cancer
• A high body mass index increases your risk of developing breast cancer
• Physical activity reduces your risk of developing breast cancer
• Alcohol intake increases your risk of developing breast cancer
• A diet high in in saturated fat could increase your risk of developing breast cancer
A family history of breast cancer increases your risk of developing breast cancer For triple negative breast cancer studies so far have indicated the follow risk factors are key:
• The age at which a woman started her period started. A strong link was found between black women who started their period at a young and triple negative breast cancer
• Black women who were young (early twenties) when they had their first child were found to be at a higher risk of developing triple negative breast cancer
• Black women with more than 4 children had a higher risk of developing triple negative breast cancer
• Black women who breast feed are at a significantly lower risk of developing triple negative breast cancer
• Being over weight was associated with an increased risk of developing triple negative breast cancer.
• One study estimated that breasting feeding and maintaining a good body weight could prevent
close to two-thirds of triple negative breast cancers.
What are the gene mutations related to breast cancer?
Breast cancer is sometimes caused by inherited gene mutations (changes). The genes in cells carry the hereditary information that is received from a person’s parents. Hereditary breast cancer makes up approximately 5% to 10% of all breast cancer. Some altered genes related to breast cancer are more common in certain ethnic groups.
Women who have an altered gene related to breast cancer and who have had breast cancer in one breast have an increased risk of developing breast cancer in the other breast. These women also have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, and may have an increased risk of developing other cancers. Men who have an altered gene related to breast cancer also have an increased risk of developing this disease.
Tests have been developed that can detect altered genes. These genetic tests are sometimes done for members of families with a high risk of cancer. What factors affect the chance of recovery with breast cancer?
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
• The stage of the cancer (the size of the tumor and whether it is in the breast only or has spread to lymph nodes or other places in the body).
• The type of breast cancer.
• Estrogen-receptor and progesterone-receptor levels in the tumor tissue.
• Whether the cells have high levels of human epidermal growth factor type 2 receptors (HER2/neu).
• How fast the tumor is growing.
• A woman’s age, general health, and menopausal status (whether a woman is still having menstrual periods).
• Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred (come back).
Some facts about Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is now the most common cancer affecting women with one million new
cases diagnosed throughout the world each year and approximately 40, 000 new cases
diagnosed each year in the UK. The incidence of breast cancer has increased
dramatically over the past two decades with breast cancer rates in the UK increasing by
more than 50% in this time period. What this means is that 1 in 9 women will develop
breast cancer at some point in their life and 75-80% of these cases will be attributed to
women who are post menopausal. The good news is that significant advances have been
made which have increased our understanding of breast cancer leading to effective
treatments and a breast cancer screening programme that has improved survival rates
particularly for those cancers diagnosed at an early stage (Stage 1). This means that
today more women are surviving breast cancer than ever before. Unfortunately for black
women diagnosed with breast cancer we are yet to see the same improvement in
survival rates that have been afforded to our white counterparts.