Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the breast grow and form a mass. Like other solid tumors, these masses can be benign or malignant, and are most often found either through self-breast exams or mammography. Breast cancer can begin in any part of the breast, but most often starts in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple. Although breast cancer is most common in women, men can get breast cancer as well.1
What Can I do to Reduce my Breast Cancer Risk?
A risk factor is anything that predisposes you to develop a disease, such as cancer. But having one or many risk factors doesn’t mean that you will get the disease. Cancer risk factors include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Being overweight or obese, most especially after menopause
- Lack of exercise or physical activity
- Not having children
- Not or never breastfeeding
- Birth control pills
- Hormone therapy after menopause
Other Risk Factors that can’t be Changed are:
- Being a woman
- Having a family history of cancer
- Certain inherited genes
- About 5-10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, meaning they result from gene defects (mutations) that are passed on from a parent, the most common of which are BRCA1and BRCA2 genes2
- Women with BRCA1and BRCA2 mutations are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age, as well as to have cancer in both breasts. They also have a higher risk of developing other cancers, mainly ovarian cancer.2
- Genetic testing can be done to look for mutations in the BRCA1 and If you are thinking of getting genetic testing, you should talk to your physician, nurse, or genetic counselor to fully understand what genetic testing can or can’t do for you, and weigh the benefits and risks of genetic testing.
- Race and ethnicity
- Caucasian women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women. But in women under age 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women.2
- Starting menstruation early
- Early menstruation (before age 12) poses a slightly higher risk for breast cancer2
- Going through menopause after age 55
- Having more menstrual cycles slightly increases the risk because of a longer exposure to the hormones estrogen and progesterone2
If you have a family history of cancer, GenPath offers hereditary breast cancer testing to determine your risk of developing breast cancer in the future.
Early Detection of Breast Cancer
Finding breast cancer early, when the tumor is small and has not spread can be treated more successfully. Early-stage breast cancer is usually found on a mammogram before a lump can be felt and before symptoms develop. If breast cancer is found, GenPath offers the testing required to determine the severity of the cancer and what the best treatment may be.
What Testing Would My Healthcare Provider Order?
GenPath offers various tests to help understand your breast cancer. We also offer hereditary breast cancer testing for those that have a family history of breast cancer. For more on hereditary cancer testing, please click HERE
- National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast. Accessed May 16, 2019.
- American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer.html. Accessed May 16, 2019.