- Age - the chances of developing breast cancer rises as a woman gets older.
- Genes - Most inherited cases of breast cancer have been associated with two genes: BRCA1, which stands for BReast CAncer gene one, and BRCA2, which stands for BReast CAncer gene two. The functions of these genes is to keep breast cells growing normally but when abnormalities, or mutations exist in these genes, they are associated with a greater breast cancer risk. Women diagnosed with breast cancer who have an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene often have a family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or both. However, research on these genes are still in progress.
- Personal factors - beginning periods before age 12 or going through menopause after 55.
Other risks include being overweight, using hormone replacement therapy, taking birth control pills, drinking alcohol, not having children, having your first child after age 35 or having dense breast.
Symptoms of breast cancer include a lump in the breast, a change in size or shape of the breast or discharge from a nipple. Treatment may consist of radiation, lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.
Women who were treated for Hodgkin's disease with radiation, or also endured frequent X-rays during treatment for scollosis at a young age are at higher risk.
Pregnancy seems to give some protection against breast cancer, and the protection is greater the younger a woman is at her first pregnancy.