Thinking about cancer or dealing with cancer risk can be scary or overwhelming, but we believe that receiving information and resources is comforting, empowering, and lifesaving.
Every woman is at risk for breast cancer and her risk increases with age. A woman in the general population faces about a 13% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. This risk remains low before age 50; the majority of risk occurs after age 60.
Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation have a much higher lifetime risk for breast cancer, and much of the risk occurs at a younger age. However, experts don’t agree on the exact lifetime risk figures for women with either mutation because different studies of families with BRCA mutations identified different lifetime risks. BRCA mutations also increase the risk of breast cancer in men.
Other gene mutations increase breast cancer risk for women including PALB2, CHEK2, ATM, BARD1, PTEN, TP53, NF1, CDH1, NBN, and STK11.
Factors such as hormone exposure, environmental exposures, diet, exercise, and other genes, can affect cancer risk, both in people with inherited mutations in genes that increase cancer risk and people who do not have a mutation.
As new research continues, the ability of medical experts to predict breast cancer risk will improve. It is important to consult with a specialist in cancer genetics when determining your risk for breast cancer and making risk-management decisions that are best for you. Stay in contact with a genetics expert for updates on current knowledge.
Confronting your personal cancer risk can be confusing. If you are trying to make risk-management decisions, you may want additional resources or support. FORCE's Peer Navigation Program provides expert reviewed resources and 1:1 personalized peer support by specially trained volunteers who have experienced the very challenges you face.