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Know Your Risks

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women in the United States. With one in every eight women diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime, it is important to be aware of the risk factors for breast cancer. The following are some of the known risk factors for breast cancer, however you should always talk to your doctor about your specific risk.

Age: The chance of developing breast cancer increases as women age. Nearly 80 percent of breast cancers are found in women over the age of 50.

Family history of breast cancer: A woman has a higher risk of breast cancer if her mother, sister or daughter had breast cancer, especially if it was before 40 years of age. Having other relatives with breast cancer may also raise your risk.

Genetic factors: Women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are at higher risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime. Other gene changes may raise breast cancer risk as well.

In collaboration with The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the genetic counseling program at the Mountainside Hospital Cancer Center provides services to individuals and families who may be at risk for hereditary cancers. An initial consultation with a genetic counselor will help determine the likelihood that the cancer in your family is hereditary. The counselor will help you better understand available testing options and provide referrals to other health care professionals if needed. For more information, call 973-429-6704.

Childbearing and menstrual history: The older a woman is when she has her first child, the greater her risk of breast cancer. Also at higher risk are:
  • Women who menstruate for the first time at an early age (before 12)
  • Women who go through menopause late (after age 55)
  • Women who’ve never had children