Health Questions and Answers

Question: What factors place women at high risk for breast cancer?


Factors associated with a threefold or more increase in risk include the following:

  • Age > 40 yr
  • Previous cancer in one breast
  • Breast cancer in a first- or second-degree family member
  • History of multiple breast biopsies
  • Parity: nulliparous, or first pregnancy after age 31 years
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ
  • Gene mutations: BRCA1, BRCA2, hMSH2, hMLH1, hPMS1, p53, others
  • Radiation exposure to chest wall during childhood or adolescence

Reference: Casciato DA, Lowitz BB (eds): Manual of Clinical Oncology, 5th ed. Boston, Little, Brown, 2000

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