#1 RISK FACTOR: BEING A WOMAN
While other factors, such as family history & genetics, breast density, and atypical cells increase your risk for getting breast cancer, 75 percent of breast cancer diagnoses occur in women with no family history. So, if you are a woman with no other risk factors, you should:
Family history is a risk factor for breast cancer. The first thing you should do is ask your relatives about their breast and ovarian cancer histories. If you have a history of breast or ovarian cancer among close relatives on either side of your family, you should:
- Be vigilant about your breast health.
- Get your annual mammogram at least 10 years before the earliest breast cancer diagnosis in your family, or at age 40 - whichever is first.
- Discuss genetic testing with your doctor. If you test negative for known breast cancer mutations, you are still at an increased risk for breast cancer.
- Discuss other screening options with your doctor.
Should I worry?
No. The Brem Foundation can help you take control and feel empowered.
Breast cancer is over 95 percent curable when it is detected early; this fact alone should motivate you to get screened and maximize your chances of finding any trace of early, curable cancer.
DENSE BREAST TISSUE
In the United States, 65 percent of premenopausal women and 25 percent of postmenopausal women have dense breasts. Dense breasts have more connective tissue than fatty tissue.
YOU MAY WONDER WHY THIS MATTERS
This matters because women with dense breasts are 20 percent more likely to get breast cancer than women with fatty breasts. This increased risk is elevated because breast cancers in dense tissue are harder to find on mammograms than cancers in fatty tissue.
The only way to know whether you have dense tissue is through a mammogram. If you are unaware of your breast density and its implications for you, you should:
- Ask about breast density at your next mammogram.
- If you have dense breasts, ask about further screening.
- Discuss MRI, 3-D mammograms, and 3-D ultrasound with your doctor; you may have additional screening options.
- Contact the Brem Foundation if you have trouble paying for additional screening.
- Gail, Claus, and Tyrer-Cuzik are the three primary risk models that are used to describe the relative impact of various breast cancer risk factors.
- Each model takes a different approach to understanding how a woman's unique combination of risk factors - including the risk factors listed above, as well as others - affects her overall chances of getting breast cancer.
- Read about these risk models here.
- Know your risk factors.
- Get screened based on those risk factors.
- Know and demand your rights.