Breast Cancer Risk Factors

The greatest risk factors for developing breast cancers are
being a woman and growing older.

A majority of patients diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

The causes of breast cancer are not fully known. However, health and medical researchers have identified a number of factors that increase a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer. Risk factors are not causes of breast cancer, but are associated with an increased chance of getting breast cancer. It is important to note that some women have many risk factors but never get breast cancer, and others have few or no risk factors but do get the disease.

Being a woman is the number one risk factor for breast cancer. For this reason, it is important to practice the steps to good breast health – routine mammograms, regular clinical breast exams and monthly breast self-exams (BSE) remain the best line of defense for early breast cancer detection. See your healthcare provider to discuss your personal risk and your breast health needs.

Aging is the single most important factor for the development of breast cancer.  As a woman becomes older, her risk of breast cancer increases.


Risk of developing breast cancer

Birth to Death

1 in 1,985
1 in 229
1 in 68
1 in 37
1 in 26
1 in 24
1 in 8

Source: American Cancer Society Surveillance Research, 2005.

Factors That May Increase Risk of Breast Cancer

Source: Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Facts of Life, 2006.