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Reducing your risk of breast cancer

In the general population approximately 1 in 8 or 12.5% of women will develop breast cancer. There are several factors which determine a woman’s risk of breast cancer which include: hormonal factors, age, lifestyle choices, family history, and inherited genetic mutations. By assessing these factors it is possible to estimate a woman's risk of breast cancer. Women with an estimated lifetime risk of breast cancer over 17% have an increased risk of breast cancer and are usually offered extra breast screening.

How do I know if I am at increased risk of hereditary breast cancer?

Several close relatives with breast cancer

Breast cancer diagnosed before the age of 45

Bilateral breast cancer (cancer in both breasts)

Ovarian cancer

Increased frequencies of other cancers such as prostate and pancreatic cancer

Male breast cancer

Jewish ancestry

Women at increased risk of breast cancer have several options:

Increased breast cancer screening: usually with mammograms but possibly also with breast MRI

Medication to lower the risk of breast cancer, known as chemoprevention 

Risk reducing surgery (mastectomy) for those at high risk

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