Q. I have a long family history of Breast Cancer. What other risks for Breast Cancer should I be concerned about?

Written by Susan Van Sickle, RN, OCN, Oncology Nurse

A. Because Breast Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States with exception to skin cancer, knowing your risks gives you the opportunity to make lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk of a Breast Cancer diagnosis.

Risk factors include:
• Age: half of all women diagnosed are over age 65
• Weight: being obese or overweight
• Diet & Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity, a diet high in saturated fat, drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day
• Menstrual & Reproductive History: Early menstruation or late menopause, having your first child at an older age or not having given birth, or taking birth control pills for more than ten years if you are under 35.
• Family & personal history; a family history of breast cancer- particularly a mother, sister or a personal history of breast cancer or benign (non-cancer) breast disease.
• Other Factors: dense breast tissue (often identified by a mammogram), past radiation therapy to the breast or chest area and a history of hormone therapy. In recent years two genetic malformations have been identified which may increase your risk of breast cancer. A specific blood test can determine if you have this gene abnormality.
• Because breast cancer usually does not cause pain or other symptoms, it is very important women are aware of the changes in the breast or nipple, tenderness, thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area, a change in how the breast or nipple looks such as a red or swollen or ridges the skin, and any nipple discharge. Early detection can save your life!

For more information, ask your doctor or call Wooster Community Hospital at 330-202-5192.

Oncology Nurse