Infographic: Breast Cancer Risk

Tailoring Breast Cancer Screening to Each Woman's Risk

Each woman's risk of breast cancer varies based on her unique mix of lifestyle and inherent risk factors.

Factors a woman can change

  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Physical activity level
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Dietary fat intake

Motherhood can also affect risk

  • Having children at a younger age correlates with reduced breast cancer risk
  • Breast feeding further lowers risk

Other known risk factors

  • Increasing age
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Certain genetic mutations (BRCA 1 and 2 are best known)
  • High risk breast lesion such as lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or atypical hyperplasia
  • Use of menopausal hormone therapy

One plan does not fit all.

Consult with your doctor to tailor a screening plan that is appropriate for your level of risk, based on both lifestyle and inherent factors.

Average risk

A measured screening plan

  • Consult with your doctor about mammogram screening recommendations starting at age 40.
  • Supplemental screening methods such as 3D mammogram and molecular breast imaging can improve breast cancer detection in women with increased breast density.

High risk

Plan may include advanced screening

  • Breast consultation to assess individualized breast cancer risk and preventative care to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
  • Breast MRI provides supplemental imaging for women who have a lifetime risk of breast cancer over 20-25% and those with high risk gene mutations such as BRCA.
  • Genetic counseling for women who have a family history of breast cancer.

Highest risk

Proactive approaches may be needed

  • Breast consultation to assess individualized breast cancer risk and preventative care to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
  • Chemoprevention drug treatment can reduce breast cancer risk.
  • Clinical trials aimed at reducing individual risk.
  • Proactive surgery and reconstruction to remove breast tissue before cancer can develop.

Women can reduce risk by taking action.

  • Control weight within a healthy range
  • Get 30 minutes of exercise per day, 5 days a week
  • Stop smoking or better, don't start
  • Avoid alcohol consumption

Sources: MayoClinic.org; Cancer.org.

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