Detection and Prevention

Early detection, through the use of screening methods, helps find cancers early when they are most treatable.

Screening methods to find breast cancer include clinical breast examination (doctors or nurses examine women's breasts for lumps), mammography, and other imaging techniques.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Understanding the risk factors associated with developing cancer is helpful in knowing how to potentially prevent it.

Age is the most important risk factor for breast cancer. Breast cancer is more common in women over age 60 and is relatively uncommon in women under age 40. In addition to age, there are other factors that can increase the risk of breast cancer:

  • personal or family history of breast cancer
  • certain breast changes found on biopsy
  • certain genetic changes
  • menstrual periods before age 12 or menopause after age 55
  • having a first child after age 30 or never having a child
  • long-term use (more than 5 years) of menopausal hormone therapy
  • dense breast tissue
  • radiation therapy to the chest before age 30
  • alcohol use
  • having taken the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy
  • obesity
  • lack of exercise

Still have questions?

The nurses at Cancer AnswerLine™ have answers. Call 1-800-865-1125 and you'll get a personal response from one of our registered nurses, who have years of experience in caring for people with cancer.

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