Breast Cancer Risk Assessment
Certain risk factors for developing invasive breast cancer have been reported by several studies. These include:
- Age: Breast cancer is more common among older women. Typically, risk increases starting at the age of 50.
- Age at the start of menstruation: Women who had their period before 12 years old have a slightly higher risk. This may be attributed to earlier exposure of estrogen. Studies say that a longer lifetime exposure to estrogen increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
- Age at first live birth: Women who have children later in life or those with no children have an increased risk also due to longer exposure to estrogen.
- Number of first degree relative (mothers, sisters, daughters) with breast cancer.
- Number of previous biopsies (whether positive or negative).
- At least one breast biopsy with atypical hyperplasia.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Any unusual changes in the breast may be a sign of breast cancer:
- Lumps: Not all lumps felt are cancerous. A lump that is painless, hard, immovable, with irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous. A lump in the underarm area may also be a symptom.
- Changes in skin texture: Skin retraction, dimpling or consistencies like an “orange peel”, thickening of the skin.
- Redness, swelling of all or a part of the breast.
- Nipple changes: Inward turning nipple, nipple discharge other than breast milk.
It is important to consult with a physician when these changes are observed.