Am I at risk for breast cancer?

Being at risk for breast cancer is not solely dependent on family history. While most women are not inherently at risk for breast cancer, there are many risk factors that may impact your risk. However, it is important to note that having one or more risk factors does not mean you will definitely get cancer.  

If you have questions about your risk factors, please contact our partner facility at Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers at (303) 321-0302 to discuss your concerns.

Risk factors for breast cancer may be a function of age, ethnicity or family history, such as:

  • Older women are more at risk than younger women
  • Women are more at risk than men
  • Women with certain gene mutations (including ATM, BRCA1, BRCA2, CDH1, CHEK2, NBN, NF1, PALB2, PTEN, STK11, TP53)
  • Women with a first degree relative with breast cancer
    • It is recommended to start receiving mammograms 10 years before that relative was diagnosed with breast cancer
    • Having two first degree relatives with breast cancer increases risk three-fold
  • Women previously diagnosed with breast cancer are at high risk for getting a new breast cancer in the opposite breast
  • White women are more at risk of developing breast cancer than African American, Hispanic/Latina, Asian/Pacific Islander or American Indian/Alaska Native women
  • Women with dense breast tissue; this can be determined through a mammogram
  • Women who had their first menstrual period before age 12
  • Radiation therapy to the chest at a young age
  • Previous diagnosis of atypical ductal hyperplasia, atypical lobular hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in breast tissue
  • Menopause after age 55

Lifestyle- or health-related choices may also increase your risk for breast cancer, including:

  • Women who had their first child after age 30 or have never had a full-term pregnancy
  • Women using hormone replacement therapy long-term
  • Women who drink alcohol
  • Women who are overweight or obese
  • Women who do not exercise regularly