Adult Health Library
Breast Health Assessment
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women other than skin cancer. The American Cancer Society says the breast cancer death rate is declining. This is probably because of earlier detection through routine screening and better treatment. Early detection is the main way to find breast cancer when it’s small and easier to treat.
This short assessment will help you learn if you have risk factors that may raise your breast cancer risk. It is not a complete review of all breast cancer risks. For a complete evaluation of your risks, see your healthcare provider. Knowing your breast cancer risk is helpful when making a breast cancer screening plan.
This tool is not meant for women who have or have had breast cancer.
Because of your age, your risk of developing breast cancer is very low.
Because of your age, your risk of developing breast cancer is low.
Because of your age alone, your risk of developing breast cancer is slightly higher than for a younger woman.
Because of your age, your risk of developing breast cancer is higher than when you were younger. But because you have other risk factors (listed below), your risk is even higher than others in your age group.
Because of your age, you are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Because of your age, you are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. The other risk factors you have reported (listed below) increase that risk even more when compared with a same-age person without any other known risk factors.
Age is the greatest risk factor for developing breast cancer. Children rarely develop breast cancer. Between the ages of 45 and 65, your risk of developing breast cancer increases. This is especially true for women who have risk factors other than age. According to the American Cancer Society, about 2 out of 3 cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed in women ages 55 and older.
Age is the greatest risk factor for developing breast cancer. Children rarely develop breast cancer. Starting at age 45, your risk of developing breast cancer goes up, especially if you have other risk factors. Some of these risk factors will put you at increasingly higher risk as you grow older.
Age is the greatest risk factor for developing breast cancer. At age 65 or older, your risk for breast cancer increases with each passing year. According to the American Cancer Society, about 2 out of 3 cases of invasive breast cancer occur after age 55. If other risk factors are present, they become more important in knowing the risk of developing breast cancer in women older than 65.
Age is the greatest risk factor for developing breast cancer. At age 65 or older, your risk for breast cancer increases with each passing year. According to the American Cancer Society, about 2 out of 3 cases of invasive breast cancer occur after age 55. Other risk factors become more important in knowing the risk of developing breast cancer in women older than 65.
Because you are younger than 17, you have almost no risk of developing breast cancer at this time, even if you have other risk factors (listed below). Any risk factors you do have will put you in increasingly higher risk for breast cancer as you grow older.
Because you are not yet 45 years old, your risk of developing breast cancer at this time is low even if you have other risk factors (listed below). Any risk factors you do have will put you in increasingly higher risk for breast cancer as you grow older.
According to this assessment, your risk factors and their impact are listed below. Talk with your healthcare provider to review all of your risk factors, what can be done about them, and what they may mean in your case.
Factors that increase your risk of developing breast cancer
- Family history of breast cancer
- Family history of early onset breast cancer
- Personal history of uterine cancer
- Personal history of ovarian cancer
- Certain inherited gene mutations
- Personal history of certain breast conditions that aren't cancer. These include lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), or atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH).
- Personal history of chest radiation to treat another cancer as a child or teen
- Being overweight or obese after menopause. A BMI of places you in the obese category.
- Drinking alcoholic beverages. The risk for developing breast cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. If you have no more than one drink a day, your risk rises by only a very small amount. Women who have 2 to 5 drinks a day have about 1-1/2 times the risk of women who don't drink.
- Dense breast tissue (seen on a mammogram)
- Currently taking combined hormone therapy (both estrogen and progesterone) to treat symptoms of menopause
Factors that put you at a slightly higher than average risk
- Ethnicity. Caucasians have an increased incidence of breast cancer when compared with African Americans.
- Ethnicity. African Americans actually have a lower incidence of breast cancer than Caucasians, but are more likely to die from the disease.
- Smoking. Long-term heavy smoking can raise your risk for breast cancer. Because smoking is clearly tied to many cancers, it's a good idea to do all you can to quit smoking.
- First childbirth after age 30
- Menarche (start of menstruation) before age 12
- Menopause after age 55
- Personal history of taking the medicine diethylstilbestrol (DES), or your mother took it while pregnant with you
- Currently taking hormone-based birth control, such as birth control pills
Your risk factors
You have indicated no risk factors for breast cancer.
You have indicated no risk factors for breast cancer other than age.
About risk factors and preventive screening
Some risk factors, such as age, family health history, and no full-term pregnancies, cannot be changed. But you can change others such as weight, smoking, and alcohol consumption. If you have risk factors that can be changed, you should consider making lifestyle changes to reduce those risks. You should avoid alcohol, quit smoking, and lose weight if you need to. After menopause, you should avoid hormone therapy, or use low doses for only a brief time. In addition, a healthy diet and regular exercise may reduce breast cancer risk.
A large portion of the women with breast cancer have no risk factors. Having risk factors doesn't mean that you will develop breast cancer. But having risk factors is a good reason to discuss them with your doctor and schedule regular screening mammograms.
Whether you have risk factors or not, it's important to get breast cancer screening. Here are recommendations from the American Cancer Society (ACS) for screenings in women of average risk for breast cancer:
- All women should know the benefits, limits, and potential harms of breast cancer screening. They should also know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a healthcare provider right away.
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so. They should consider both the risks and potential benefits of screening.
- Women ages 45 to 54 should get a mammogram every year.
- Women ages 55 and older should switch to a mammogram every 2 years, or have the choice to continue yearly screening.
- Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live at least 10 more years.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional health care. Always consult with a healthcare provider for advice concerning your health. Only your healthcare provider can determine if you have breast cancer.
This assessment is not intended to replace the evaluation of a healthcare professional.
Online Medical Reviewer: Trevino, Heather M, BSN, RNC