Risk Factors for Breast Cancer and Key Warning Signals for Possible Breast Cancer

Key Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

  • family history of breast cancer
  • having never had children
  • having first pregnancy after age 30
  • having started to menstruate at 11 years or younger
  • certain breast changes on biopsy examination
  • increasing age after 40 years of age
  • menopause after 55 years old
  • dense (thick) breasts on mammography
  • having taken hormone replacement therapy for a long time
  • genetic changes in BRCA1, BRCA2 and other genes (less than 10 percent of all breast cancers)
  • radiation (x-ray therapy) to the chest or breasts before 30 years of age
  • Diet and lifestyle – Obese and overweight women who are postmenopausal

 Key Warning Signals for Possible Breast Cancer:

  •  persistent lump in either breast or an armpit
  • change in the shape or scaliness of the nipple
  • thickening or dimpling of the skin of the breast
  • painful or tender nipples
  • any discharge or drainage from a nipple
  • persistent skin irritation