Breast Cancer (BC)

Risk factors

The presence of risk factors does not necessarily mean the development of the disease.


In most cases, the age of the patients exceeds 55.


This factor seems obvious, but it is worth remembering that men can also get breast cancer, much less often.


Having 1 drink a day increases the risk of breast cancer by 10%, and 2 drinks or more — by 20%.


The risk is higher if you become overweight after menopause. The increased risk is associated with the production of estrogen by fatty tissue, as well as lack of physical activity and excess production of insulin.


Up to 10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary.

The most common cause of hereditary breast cancer is a pathogenic variant in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.

Family or personal history of breast cancer

The presence of 1 first-degree relative – the risk is 2 times higher, of 2 relatives – 3 times higher.

Women without children

Also, late reproductive age is a risk factor. At the same time, the risk of breast cancer increases relatively within 10 years after pregnancy, and then decreases.

Avoidance of breastfeeding

Long-term breastfeeding (more than a year) reduces the risk of breast cancer.

Contraceptives containing hormones

Some studies have found a connection between taking hormonal contraceptives (oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices, skin patches, etc.) and breast cancer. The risk decreases several years after hormonal contraception is discontinued.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Combined HRT (estrogen + progesterone) increases the risk of breast cancer after long-term use (more than 4 years). Estrogen therapy (after removal of the uterus) causes only a slight increase in risk.

Breast implants

Breast implants are not associated with an increased risk of the most common types of breast cancer. However, they are associated with a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALC). This lymphoma can develop about 8 to 10 years after implant placement, and more frequently if implants have a textured (rough) surface rather than a smooth one. It can manifest as fluid accumulation around the implant, swelling, pain, edema, or asymmetry. If you have any worrisome symptoms, you should discuss them with your physician. Early stage ACL is often treated surgically by removing the implant and capsule. More advanced disease requires chemotherapy/chemoradiation.

Early onset of menstruation (before age of 12) / late onset of menopause (after age 55)

due to longer lifetime exposure to the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Radiation therapy of the chest while treating cancer at a young age

for example, Hodgkin’s lymphoma or non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.

Presence of certain benign breast diseases

  • Ductal hyperplasia (without atypia)
  • Fibroadenoma
  • Sclerosing adenosis
  • Several papillomas (called papillomatosis)
  • Radial scar
  • Atypical ductal/lobular hyperplasia (5 times higher)
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (10 times higer)

Fibrocystic changes and mastitis do not increase the risk of breast cancer.

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