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Some risk factors for breast cancer are within your control, while others are not. Having one or more of these factors does not necessarily mean that you will develop breast cancer. Most people who develop the disease have minimal risk factors.
Breast cancer risk factors that you cannot change include:
Gender: Women are much more likely to develop breast cancer than men.
Age: Breast cancer risk increases with age, especially in women over 50.
Ethnicity: Women of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage have a higher risk of breast cancer this group is more likely to have an inherited BRCA gene mutation.
Personal history of breast or ovarian cancer: Having cancer in one breast slightly increases the risk of developing a second separate breast cancer. Women with ovarian cancer associated with BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation have an increased risk of breast cancer.
Family history of breast cancer: Having a close relative who had breast cancer increases your risk.
Inherited genetic predisposition: Having specific hereditary genetic mutations, such as a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, increases your risk.
Breast density: Extreme breast density as seen on a mammogram increases the risk for breast cancer. Dense breast tissue makes it harder to detect cancer on mammograms.
Exposure to radiation: Radiation therapy to the chest from childhood through early adulthood increases breast cancer risk.
Menstrual history: Women whose periods began before age 12 or who experienced menopause after age 55 are at a higher risk for breast cancer.
Reproductive history: Women who gave birth to their first child after 30 or were never pregnant have an increased risk of breast cancer.
Risk factors that are within your control include:
Lifestyle factors: Factors such as obesity, lack of physical activity, and overconsumption of alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Hormone replacement therapy: Taking hormone replacement therapy after menopause increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
Learning that you may have cancer plunges you into uncertainty. The more you understand about your condition, the greater your sense of control. This overview explains diagnosis and treatment planning, to help you understand what to expect as you go through the early steps of your care.
We offer one of the nation’s most robust clinical trial programs for breast cancer. These research studies evaluate new medical approaches, devices, drugs, and other treatments.
As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may be eligible to participate in open clinical trials. Open trials refer to studies currently recruiting participants or that may recruit participants in the near future. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but similar studies may open in the future.
To learn more about the clinical trials we offer, contact Pei-Jen Chang at 650-725-0866.
You can access Stanford’s expertise and compassionate care for any stage or type of breast cancer at a location that is convenient for you. We always accept new patients, and we take many insurance plans, including Medicare and Medi-Cal.
Breast Cancer Program
900 Blake Wilbur Drive 1st Floor
900 Blake Wilbur Drive 1st Floor Palo AltoCA,94304 Phone: 650-498-6004Getting Here »