It’s never too early to consider breast cancer risk

Archive, Month, October

Early detection is key to favorable outcomes.

Women under 40 years old, generally, have a very low risk of developing breast cancer.

The most common form of cancer among all women, more than 325,000 breast cancer diagnosis were expected this year alone.

Breast cancer can develop at any age, and even though only 5 percent of those cases are expected in women under 40 years of age, it’s never too early for women to consider their risk for breast cancer.

It’s never too early to begin regular self-exams.

Knowing the risk can lead to early detection if the cancer should develop, and early detection is key to a favorable outcome following treatment: 90 percent of patients diagnosed early survive.

Breast cancer risk factors

  • Family history of breast cancer, especially at an early age
  • History of chest radiation therapy
  • Genetic mutation resulting in an increased risk for breast cancer (talk to your doctor)

Other risk factors include a family history of breast cancer before the age of 50, triple negative breast cancer, ovarian cancer, male breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and metastatic pancreatic cancer. These are the results of a genetic syndrome, which also leads to an increased risk for breast cancer.

If these risk factors are present, especially in women under 40, they should discuss it with their primary care doctor and ask about genetic counseling. These tests can determine a patient’s risk for developing breast cancer and tailor a screening plan accordingly.

Reducing breast cancer risk

Outside of genetics, lifestyle habits and changes can be taken now to address and lower the chances of breast cancer developing later in life.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Exercising regularly
  • Breastfeeding

Younger women also tend to have denser breast tissue, making lumps more difficult to detect during self-exams. Performing self-exams and not ignoring signs or symptoms, specifically suspicious lumps, is vital.

Their low risk may prompt some young women to disregard lumps. This could lead to a delay in diagnosis and eventual treatments, and perhaps less favorable outcomes.

Breast cancer can lead to other complications even after treatment, such as fertility, sexual and pregnancy.